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Full text of "Letters from South Africa;"

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Letters from 
South Africa 



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LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 



LETTERS 



FROM SOUTH AFRICA 



BY 



&ije STimes special correspondent 



Reprinted from Wfyz Qlimzft 

of July, August, September, and October 1892 



Hontfott 

MACMILLAN AND CO. 

AND NEW YORK 
AND Wi)t mmtZ OFFICE, PRINTING HOUSE SQUARE 

1893 
&. 

A II rights reserved 






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THESE Letters are reprinted as they originally ap- 
peared in the columns of The Times, at the request 
of several of the most prominent public men in South 
Africa, who, though representing various shades of 
political opinion, unite in saying that the situation as 
it exists at present is faithfully reflected in these 
pages, and in expressing a wish that the general 
public should by their republication have the oppor- 
tunity of becoming better acquainted with South 
African affairs. 

The Times Office, Printing House Square, 
London, January 1893. 



KlMBERLEY. 

Up to the Karoo ! It means up from Cape Town, 
which is on the level of the sea, to a plateau top- 
ping the summit of Table Mountain, and maintaining 
throughout the extent of half a continent an eleva- 
tion of from 3000 to 6000 feet. The principal climb 
is done in the first twelve hours of a railway journey. 
A train leaves Cape Town at nine in the evening. 
Through the night the traveller, struggling with a 
first experience of railway beds, which he afterwards 
learns to regard as quite sufficiently comfortable for 
sleeping purposes, hears the almost human groan and 
strain of the engine as it toils up the heavy way. 
There is even a point at which his dreams fill them- 
selves with a futile sense of pushing. The slow 
pace, the many stoppages, the sound of voices into 
the cause of which he is scarcely awake enough to 
inquire, combine to convey the impression that every 
official and servant of the road is lending muscle to 
assist the locomotive. An attempt to remove the 
baize with which the window is blinded for the night 
reveals nothing but outer darkness. In the morning 
he learns that he was in fact pushed by a second 
engine up the ascent of the Hex River Pass, where 

B 



2 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 1 

the gradient is I in 40 for 5 miles, and he wakes 
to find himself upon the Karoo. 

The effect is magical. The world of trees and 
towns has been left behind ; he is up in the country 
of the mountain -tops. On all sides they stretch 
away, peak behind peak, and range behind range, in 
every variety of shape and colour, from the clear 
browns and purples of the near foreground to the 
liquid blues and melting heliotrope and primrose of 
the horizon. There is no sign of habitation, and 
scarcely, at first, of animal life. The ground is 
covered with a gray-green scrub, of which the mono- 
tony is broken only here and there by a clump of 
mimosa bushes wearing their long white thorns like 
flowers, or by the sheer barrenness of patches of red 
shingle. 

But at this season of the year it is probable that 
there has been a good deal of rain. The water is 
standing in pools and natural depressions, and the 
hues of the sunrise reflected in it give a colour to 
the whole scene which is indescribable. The air is 
keen, but so extraordinarily invigorating that you 
gladly throw down the windows of the carriage and 
let it play upon you without fear of cold. A sense 
of lightness which calls back childish dreams of flight 
possesses the body. The idea of reaching the distant 
ranges by a direct progress from peak to peak has 
not the patent impossibility that it would wear in 
Piccadilly. 

Meantime the sunlight spreads, and the exhilara- 
tion produced by the fresh air finds more material 
expression in a well-developed appetite for breakfast. 
The train stops while this is gratified at Matjes- 
Fontein, a little invalid settlement, where about a 



i LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 3 

dozen houses cluster round the station and hotel. 
Here a health station has been established where 
patients come to undergo the simple process of an 
air cure. Throughout the Karoo the stopping-places 
are all health stations, for while the soil in this part 
of the great plateau has not yet been put to any 
practical use, the air has been found to possess such 
remarkable curative power for diseases of the chest 
that people flock to it in increasing numbers year by 
year. 

The Karoo proper is bounded on the north by 
the Roggeweld and Nieuweld mountains, and on the 
south by the Great and Little Zwartzenbergen, 
which run in almost straight lines east and west 
for a couple of hundred miles. The course of the 
railway lies from south-east to north-west, having 
these ranges always in differing aspects on the 
horizon, the offshoots from them advancing some- 
times in outlying koppjes to the very rails, sometimes 
receding to the ranks of the parent hills, and leaving 
the desert to widen into monotonous sweeps of plain. 
Overhead the sky has an intense clear blue, not 
unbroken, but flecked like an English sky in some 
of its best April days with dazzling white clouds. 
There is nothing English to which the scene can be 
compared. The nearest parallel is to be gained by 
travelling on foot through the mountain -tops of 
Wales. Then magnify the distances in the same 
proportion as the pace of a train multiplies the rate 
of pedestrian progress, and you get some conception 
of the breadth and space. The immense size of the 
African continent is for the first time presented 
visibly to the mind. Through it all the train rushes 
on, with the telegraph wire as a symbol of still 



4 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA i 

greater swiftness by its side, and from the window 
of the train there is occasional opportunity to note 
the very different progress of another form of 
travelling. 

From time to time we pass the white tented 
cover of a wagon, in which it is probable that the 
principal domestic provisions of some Dutch house- 
holder are stored. The wagon is about 20 feet 
long, brilliantly painted in red and green and yellow. 
Its canvas roof shines like snow in the sun, and 
perhaps as many as sixteen or eighteen oxen are 
yoked by pairs in the team which draws it at a foot's 
pace across the desert. The driver walks by the 
side of his wheelers, the children of the family usually 
lag a little behind ; and somewhere, not far, either 
in front or behind, a herd of cattle are alternately 
moving and grazing. 

Oxen succeed in getting a living for themselves 
from the inhospitable -looking scrub, and for this, 
among other reasons, they are the preferred animals 
for wagon-travelling. For this reason, also, when a 
farmer moves he has no need to sell his cattle, but 
prefers to take them with him. You speed past. 
The slowly-moving party is hardly seen before it 
has been left far behind, and there may be hours 
again of solitude before any further sign of human 
existence meets the eye. Occasionally it happens 
that you pass a wretched hut set down in the centre 
of the waste. The train may even be obliged to 
slacken its pace in order to give time to clear the 
line of a flock of goats, which tells you that the 
desert has a native inhabitant who succeeds in 
drawing some poor sustenance from the soil. But 
he scarcely interests you. 



I LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 5 

The sense of travel in its positive sense, so 
different from the mere negative withdrawal from 
London, iias rilled you. Increasingly as the hours 
pass by and the clear noonday light begins to 
deepen into sunset, you realise that you are going 
into new country, and your feeling of fellowship is 
stirred for the man with the wagon, who, like your- 
self, has felt the attraction that lies on the other 
side of the Karoo. You, in your progressive 
English fashion, must hurry as fast as steam and 
electricity can take you. He, in his traditional 
Dutch manner, is content to move on slowly day 
by day. He calls his progress " trekking." You give 
the name of travelling to yours. Each is alike 
removed from the stationary condition of the goat- 
herd in the hut Each has a distinct aim towards 
which he is tending, and each, it strikes you, is for 
the moment representative of a force at work upon 
South Africa. The Dutchman is going to seek one 
form of natural wealth. In his ultimate place of 
settlement he desires to find pasturage for his cattle 
and seed earth for his corn. Space is essential to 
him, and space alone. He has no need to hurry, no 
need to keep pace with modern inventions. Time 
is on his side, and the patient process of the seasons 
will bring his fortune almost without labour from 
the soil. 

The destination of the Englishman in his typical 
character is one of the mining centres. He is going 
to Kimberley or Johannesburg, or it may be to the 
still unproved gold-fields of Mashonaland. He wants 
profit, but he wants it quickly. He has no time to 
seek it in leisurely fashion, behind slow-plodding 
oxen, surrounded by his baby children and his 



6 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA i 

women. When the Dutch trekker is preparing to 
" outspan " for the evening meal, the day's journey 
finished only a few miles beyond the spot at which 
he was seen at noon, the train has already reached 
Beaufort West at the north-eastern extremity of this 
section of the Karoo. A crowd of consumptive 
invalids has come there, as at other places, to greet 
the friends or the friends of friends who are passing 
through, and before night closes we are hurrying on 
over the Winterveldt to Kimberley. 

In the morning the character of the landscape 
has changed. We have crossed the Orange River, 
the mountains have drawn back to the distant 
horizon, and the plain, covered by rough scrubby 
grass, has widened on every side. The air is frosty, 
and we are glad of all our wraps, but by nine 
o'clock, when we reach Kimberley Station, the sun 
is already warm enough to produce the illusion of a 
summer day. It is really mid-winter ; chrysanthe- 
mums have all been cut down by the frost. Only 
the hardier sorts of roses, geraniums, violets, and 
autumn foliage linger still in the villa gardens, which 
are springing up in English fashion round the town. 
It has taken thirty - six hours to do 547 miles, 
including the ascent from Cape Town, but the rail- 
way arrangements are comfortable enough to render 
the journey possible without too great fatigue, and 
the day lies before any one who chooses to see the 
diamond mines. 

It is so impossible to speak of Kimberley without 
speaking of the diamond mines that, at the risk of 
repeating what has been told a thousand times be- 
fore, I describe them as they were shown to me, with 
all their dependencies of labour settlements. They 



I LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 7 

concentrate round them almost the entire life of Kim- 
berley, and they illustrate some of the most interesting 
questions which are connected with the development 
of enterprise in South Africa. The most logical 
way of seeing the process of extraction is to begin 
underground and brave at once the slush and heat 
and drip of the 800 feet level. Here, while you 
splash, candle in hand, in the darkness, through 
some two or three miles of labyrinthine passages, 
you have time to realise the work which is being 
done by the thousands of natives who are busy day 
and night throughout a honeycombed depth of 
1 1 00 feet in getting out the blue earth from its bed. 
There is no reef The whole mass of the mine is 
diamondiferous, the rich stuff descends apparently 
to limitless depths, and all that has to be done is to 
bring it to the surface in such a manner that gallery 
shall still stand on gallery and allow of working 
without danger of collapse. Above, below, on every 
side you hear the sound of pick-and-rock drill and 
rolling trucks. Black figures glue themselves against 
the walls to let you pass. 

The conditions of the scene combine to produce 
a vivid impression of labour. The natives work 
together in gangs of four, filling the trucks. Per- 
spiration pearls over their naked bodies in some of the 
hottest galleries, but they appear to labour without 
distress. In the main galleries, which are admirably 
ventilated, they are for the most part fully dressed. 
They work either by time or task as they please, 
their wages remaining the same in either case ; and 
I was told that they often finish their allotted 
number of trucks in two-thirds of the time which is 
allowed. Seeing what they do and how easily they 



8 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA i 

do it, you can never doubt any more that the African 
native is able to work, and to work well when he 
chooses. The pleasanter processes of diamond- 
mining begin when you follow the contents of the 
trucks up to welcome daylight again, and see the 
" blue," as it is familiarly called, laid out on the 
floors. The " floors " are simply fields fenced round 
with high wire fences, where the extracted rock is 
spread out in beds of a certain thickness to pulverise 
under the action of the air. The contents of the 
trucks as they are emptied out run themselves into 
long rows ; the colour of the stuff is almost identical 
with the gray-purplish hue of winter cabbages at 
home, and at first sight the flat and widespreading 
floors might easily be mistaken for Essex cabbage 
fields. 

The process of pulverisation takes from four to 
six months, according to the weather and the con- 
dition of the rock, and it is assisted by operations of 
watering and rolling, which add to the agricultural 
illusion. The average yield of every load of blue is 
one carat of diamonds, and as the average net profit 
on a carat of diamonds is about 20s., the value of 
the million loads, which I was told that I was look- 
ing at in the extent of a couple of cabbage fields, is 
not far from ;£ 1,000,000 sterling. As soon as the 
blue is sufficiently pulverised it is taken to the wash- 
ing machine, where, by means of an ingenious system 
of water flowing over revolving pans, the lighter part 
of the earth is washed away, while the heavier re- 
mains in the bottom of the pans. By this process 

99 per cent of the blue earth is got rid of, and of 

100 loads which go into the washing machine only 
one is saved to be sorted. The remaining 99, after 



I. LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 9 

passing through the various sieves and stages of the 
washing machine, pour out in a state of liquid mud 
at the bottom of the machine, and are carted away 
by mechanical haulage to be emptied on the daily 
increasing hillocks of diamond tailings, which, if 
other records of the industry were to vanish, might 
well puzzle future geologists to account for their 
composition. The weight of diamonds keeps the 
precious stones for the most part with the heavy 
residue which has been saved. 

It is, however, well known that a considerable 
quantity of diamondiferous stuff escapes with the 
tailings, and if any economical process of treating 
them could be discovered, the mounds of apparently 
water-worn rock which dot the neighbourhood would 
suddenly acquire a new value. So far no practical 
use for this waste earth has been discovered. The 
one rich load to which the hundred raw loads have 
been reduced in passing through the washing machine 
was at one time sorted by hand. It is now subjected 
to a further preliminary of washing and sorting in a 
machine known as the pulsator. Here the diamond- 
iferous stuff is passed under water over pulsating 
screens, in which a double layer of leaden bullets 
has been placed. The pulsating motion causes a 
constant gentle shaking to be maintained, and as the 
specific gravity of diamonds is greater than that of 
lead, while the specific gravity of much of the waste 
pebbly material is less, the effect is to shake the 
diamonds to the bottom of the shot, while the waste 
material remains above it, and is gradually washed 
over the side of the screen by the running water. 
The diamondiferous stuff is served into these wet 
pans by means of a cylindrical sieve, which distributes 



io LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA i 

the finest from one end and the coarsest from the 
other, with regulated gradations between, on the same 
principle as the main sieve of an ordinary flour mill. 

The whole process of mechanical sorting is based 
upon the relative weight of the diamond to other 
stones of the same size among which it is found, 
and if the difference were as great as the difference 
between the weight of gold and the mineral sub- 
stances from which it is divided by washing there 
would be little waste and much less hand labour. 
As it is, many stones, such as garnets and others of 
no value, of which the specific gravity is equal to 
that of diamonds, are found in the diamondiferous 
earth. These, of course, pass in the pulsator through 
the bed, and when all has been done that can be 
done by mechanical processes, the material which is 
taken from the machine has still to be subjected to 
the slow, uncertain, and costly process of hand sort- 
ing, with all its temptations to dishonesty. 

In the sorting room the first thing which strikes 
you with surprise is to perceive that native convicts 
are busy at the sorting tables. Almost all the 
sentences at the convict station are inflicted for theft, 
and the handling of uncounted diamonds seems the 
last work upon which it would be desirable to em- 
ploy convicted thieves. However, as a matter of 
fact, it is found that the greater hold which it is 
possible to have over a convict, and the greater 
difficulty which they experience in being able either 
to keep or to dispose of stolen diamonds in prison, 
makes them really safer to employ than the average 
free coloured labourer. They are trusted only with 
the smaller -grained stuff, in which the smaller 
diamonds are found. 



I LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

More than this, after you have stood for some 
time by one of the tables, where four men are 
employed, you probably become aware of an in- 
definite sensation of discomfort, and raising your 
head you perceive that a white man, whose business 
it is to watch the proceedings of every one below, 
is seated upon a beam overhead. No one employed 
can be sure at any moment that the eye of a 
watcher is not upon him. The larger-grained stuff 
is all sorted by trusted white men. The mass of 
pebbles which the distribution of the cylindrical 
sieve has already sorted according to size are carried 
into this room in hand sieves and thrown in wet 
heaps upon their respective tables, where every 
sorter is provided with a flat metal slice and a little 
covered tin pannikin into which each diamond as it 
is found is dropped. With the metal slice a small 
portion of the mass is scattered rapidly over the 
table, inspected, and swept over the side. 

The rapidity with which a practised sorter is 
able to detect a diamond or decide upon the absence 
of any in the portion scattered is astonishing to the 
amateur beholder, who can hardly believe that there 
has been time to look before the refuse has been 
swept off the board. Doubtless valuable stones are 
sometimes missed and a percentage of loss must 
be reckoned with. In order to guard against it, 
especially in the larger -grained stuff, the whole 
refuse of the sorting is carried out and spread upon 
sacks in the yard, where men are employed to sort 
it a second time. The quantity of recovered 
diamonds is sufficient to justify the precaution, but 
it is not very great. The diamonds from the sort- 
ing room are made into parcels twice a day, and 



12 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA I 

sent under armed escort to the office, where they are 
again sorted for commercial purposes by practised 
valuers. It is in this office that the great variety 
as well as beauty of the stones can be appreciated. 
There are specimens cut and uncut of every kind and 
colour. After the white diamond the yellow is the 
most frequent, but there are also stones of green and 
purple, pink, blue, and almost black shades, in which 
brilliancy and colour appear to combine for their 
very highest expression. Here the industry is lost 
sight of, and the gem value of the diamonds asserts 
itself. 



II 

KlMBERLEY. 

PERHAPS the most interesting part of the Kimberley 
mines is the manner in which the De Beers Company 
have dealt with the difficult labour question of the 
country. The mines employ three kinds of labour 
— convicts, free natives, and white men. The con- 
victs may be left out of count as constituting only 
a small and abnormal element, and the numbers 
which remain are 6000 natives and 1400 whites, 
exclusive of superior officials. The average wages 
are £1 a week for the natives, and from ^3 : 10s. 
a week upwards for the white man. Mr. Rhodes 
was heard to say in a London drawing-room last 
year that it was the reading of Germinal which had 
caused him to realise the necessity of providing 
decent homes and harmless pleasures for the Kim- 
berley miners. If so, the fact marks Kimberley as 
a curious link between the double chains of Euro- 
pean and African experience which meet here 
abruptly, and M. Zola can have the pleasure of 
knowing that there is at least one work of his 
which has not been barren of fruit. All the men 
employed in the De Beers mine have homes provided 
for them suitable to their condition. 

The village of Kenilworth, where the white men 



i 4 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA H 

live, is Mr. Rhodes's special personal hobby. It is 
on the De Beers estate, at a distance of about a 
mile and a half from the town and mine. A tram 
takes the men to and from their work. The first 
charm of the place, situated in a naturally treeless 
plain, near a town of corrugated iron, is that it has 
been well planted with eucalyptus trees and shrubs 
and vines, and that the houses are of pleasing archi- 
tectural designs, built chiefly of brick and wood. 
They stand either singly or in pairs in their own 
gardens. The centre of the settlement is a club- 
house, which is surrounded by its own well-kept 
grounds, and includes library, billiard-rooms, reading- 
rooms, and dining-hall. The houses in which quar- 
ters are let to single men stand nearest to it, and 
the dining-hall is habitually used as a common 
mess. The feeding arrangements are made by 
contract with a caterer, to whom each man pays 
25 s. a week. 

Dinner for the evening shift was in course of 
preparation as we passed through the kitchen, and 
consisted of soup, two entrees, and five or six joints, 
with vegetables and sweets. The tables in the 
large, cool dining-room were laid with clean cloths 
and table napkins, and the whole tone and aspect of 
the establishment were of a kind in which a culti- 
vated man could live without loss of decency or 
self-respect. People were sauntering in and out of 
the reading-room with illustrated papers in their 
hands to enjoy the last sunshine on the verandah. 
The garden was a mass of flowers. A young couple 
were walking away under a long vine trellis known 
as the Lovers' Walk. 

At nightfall, when the sun is gone, the air becomes 



II LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 15 

again sharply cold. Then fires would be lit, I was 
told, in the principal rooms, and the place would fill 
for the evening. With the recollection of some of 
our own mining towns in my mind and a remem- 
brance of the picture presented by the book from 
which this settlement had sprung, it seemed scarcely 
credible to me that this could be the everyday 
aspect of a miner's home life in Africa. Yet every 
question I asked drew only answers which assured 
me that, with a due allowance for the inevitable 
irregularities of human nature, it represented, not 
only the superficial appearance, but the everyday 
habits which correspond to an appearance of re- 
spectability, comfort, and intelligence. Single men 
in this settlement pay £1 a. month for their quarters. 
This, with the 25 s. a week for their board, leaves 
them still a handsome margin of wages. The most 
expensive married quarters, which look like pretty 
little villas outside, and are fitted with every con- 
venience within, cost £$ a month. I asked how 
the scheme answered from the financial point of 
view, and was told that it yields an interest of 5 
per cent upon the invested capital. The present 
settlement is only large enough to accommodate 
the workmen of the De Beers mine. It is, how- 
ever, in contemplation to make an extension which 
shall take in the workmen of the Kimberley mine 
also. 

From this practical recognition of the principle 
of equality between man and man, it was at once 
striking and interesting to drive to one of the " com- 
pounds " or locations which are provided for the 
native labourers. In order to check drunkenness 
and diamond-stealing among the natives it has been 



16 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

found absolutely necessary to place them under 
supervision during the term of their engagement in 
the mine. Every native labourer who is employed 
by the De Beers Company engages to live in one of 
the company's compounds and to obey its regula- 
tions, and from the day he enters the compound he 
does not again leave it until he is discharged or has 
obtained a formal leave of absence. He sees his 
wives and family, if they choose to visit him, in the 
presence of an overseer, and he speaks to them 
through a grating. He never approaches so close 
to them as to be able under any pretence to pass a 
diamond from one hand to another. 

The compound communicates by means of a 
covered way with the mine to which he goes for 
his work. Except to work he has no communi- 
cation with the world. The conditions of seclusion 
are as absolute as those of the life of any monk, and 
the compound is described in one sentence when it 
is called a monastery of labour. Yet the compounds 
are voluntarily filled to the required number, and 
many of their inhabitants have, with occasional leave 
of absence, remained in them for years. The one 
which we visited contained when it was full about 
2600 men. Nine hundred were absent in the mine. 
The remaining 1700 were busy with the preparation 
of their evening meal. The sun was setting over 
the roofs of the huts, which enclose a great square. 

A few dusky figures, wrapped in blankets mostly 
of a bright terra-cotta colour, caught the eye as they 
moved in the light of the last rays, but twilight 
shadows had already fallen upon the greater part of 
the courtyard. Perhaps as many as a hundred fires 
blazed before the open doors of the huts, and round 



ii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 17 

each fire a circle was gathered of natives, dressed 
and undressed, varying in degrees of duskiness, but 
all alike composing groups in the warm flame-light, 
with now a face here, an arm or a leg there, thrown 
into sharp relief that would have defied either painter 
or sculptor to reproduce. From black and gray and 
smoke-colour to the high lights of burnished copper, 
rendered sharper by the white and blue tongues of 
the blazing wood, no gradation was missing. Large 
three-legged pots were pushed into the embers and 
presided over by one or two members of each circle. 
The remainder, while they waited for their supper, 
were engaged in chatting, smoking, and playing a 
game with pebbles upon a sort of chess-board 
marked out in the earth, which is, I was told, almost 
as classic an amusement among African natives as 
chess among their Aryan cousins. Upon investiga- 
tion we found that the contents of the supper-pots 
varied a good deal, each man or group providing as 
they pleased for their own wants. 

Wages are high, and every form of food material 
which is likely to be required can be obtained at 
reasonable prices in the canteen of the compound. 
Intoxicating liquor is, of course, absolutely ex- 
cluded, but tea, coffee, and a variety of harmless 
drinks are to be bought, and the crowd which filled 
the canteen when we visited it testified to the fact 
that the pleasures or necessities of the commissariat 
are by no means neglected. Wood and water are 
furnished without cost. Natives from all parts of 
South Africa live together harmoniously in one 
compound, but the custom is for the various tribes 
to have their separate huts and messing arrange- 
ments. Marked differences were observable in the 

C 



18 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

facial and other characteristics of the several groups, 
and the working capacity of the different tribes is 
found to vary in no less marked a degree. The 
common opinion here and elsewhere appeared to be 
that the Zulu and Basuto natives far surpass all 
others in industry and adaptability to the require- 
ments of civilised labour. The comforts of the 
compound include swimming baths and a hospital, 
where, in the accident ward, a number of natives 
were amusing themselves with part - singing and 
looked extremely cheerful. The only part of the 
whole establishment in which the note of buoyant 
good spirits appeared to flag was in the fever ward. 
Here alone black heads lay languid on the pillows, 
and the flash of white teeth in a ready laugh did not 
greet our entrance. 

Scarcely any difficulty, the manager assured us, 
is experienced in the peaceful administration of the 
compound. Each compound is, of course, under 
white supervision. The men are usually satisfied 
with the arrangements made for their comfort ; 
quarrelling between them is rare, thieving from one 
another is scarcely known, and when subjects of 
dispute arise they are disposed of by appeal to the 
white chief. The percentage of sickness is also low. 
As a means of obtaining the maximum amount of 
regular labour with a minimum of diamond-stealing, 
drunkenness, and annoyance to the surrounding 
population, the system has answered admirably, and 
that it is popular among the natives themselves 
seems to be scarcely doubtful. It is excessively 
interesting, because it shows that it is possible to 
get labour from the native, and to enable him to 
earn a fair wage without immediately spending it in 



ii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 19 

drink. It explodes also the theory current among 
some employers of labour, that the native is ignorant 
of the value of money and cannot be attracted by 
high pay. 

In the presence of the well -filled compounds 
there can be no question that the material advan- 
tages which they offer are as fully appreciated by 
the natives as are the advantages of Kenilworth by 
the white man. The two together may claim to 
have created conditions of life which satisfy both the 
white man and the native. The native is recognised 
as the motor power by means of which material 
development is carried out ; the white man takes 
the position of director of this motor power, which 
is the only position that he can hold with satisfaction 
to himself in the African climate. Muscle on the 
one side and brain on the other must, for a long 
time to come, represent the respective contributions 
of the two races to the public stock. 

The merit of the method by which the Kimberley 
mines are worked is that it acknowledges the fact 
without sacrificing either the black man to the 
white, or the white man to the black. So far, its 
value as an example can hardly be overrated. The 
objection is that in relation to the natives the 
system is not a natural one, and, however successful 
it may have proved itself under liberal management, 
the conditions are too evidently artificial to be suit- 
able for universal application. It shows what is 
wanted, and it illustrates the result which may be 
obtained. Beyond this it cannot be said to carry a 
solution of the general problem which is perplex- 
ing South Africa. The farmer, the shopkeeper, the 
printer, the petty industrialist all over the country is 



20 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

unable to offer high wages as a bait, and to segre- 
gate his workmen in compounds from which external 
temptations cannot lure them. The schemes of 
compulsory labour which have from time to time 
been devised fall to the ground because the difficulty 
of finding one which is not slavery in disguise has 
hitherto proved insuperable, and without compulsion 
it has so far been found that the ordinary native is 
like his ordinary fellow-man in this — that he does not 
care to work after his most pressing wants have been 
satisfied. A wife is soon bought, a hut is soon built, 
and when these objects have been accomplished, he de- 
fies white energy by preferring a pipe in the sun to all 
the luxuries which continued labour could accumulate. 

Like many another problem which seems at first 
sight insoluble, the labour problem may be expected 
to yield before the constant pressure of civilised 
effort, and the difficulties attaching to it which the 
De Beers Company have surmounted for themselves 
in their own energetic way have not prevented the 
conception of other enterprise, even in Kimberley 
itself. The town is full of sanguine expectation 
with regard to the result of the exhibition which is 
to open in September, 1 and the promoters of the 
undertaking very naturally hope that the effect of it 
will be productive of good throughout South Africa. 

The preparation of the buildings and grounds is 
being very actively carried on, and is on a larger 
scale than any South African exhibition which 
has hitherto been attempted. The most practical 
interest will, of course, centre in the machinery 
court, into which, in order to facilitate the delivery 
of heavy goods, a branch line of rail has been run 

1 Written in June 1892. 



II LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 21 

from the Government railway. As the railway will 
be completed to Johannesburg and Pretoria before 
the exhibition closes, mining machinery which is 
exhibited at Kimberley and bought, as much of it 
probably will be, for use in the Transvaal, will thus 
have the advantage of arriving in the exhibition 
court and of being despatched to its final destination 
without having to bear the cost of one yard of 
wagon transport. 

It is hoped and expected that the mining court 
will be unique in interest of its kind, for none has 
ever yet been shown so near to mining centres 
where the newest machinery is an urgent daily need, 
and the output which demonstrates the effect of it 
is so valuable. The De Beers Company will show 
such a collection of diamonds as has probably never 
come together before in any exhibition of the world 
as the produce of one mine, and Johannesburg will 
send the gold output of an entire month, represent- 
ing a sum which, if the present rate of increase be 
maintained, will soon not fall far short of half a 
million sterling. 

Special prizes have been awarded for diamond- 
mining and for gold-concentrating machinery, and 
in the presence of the diamonds and the gold even 
an uninstructed public may be expected to appre- 
ciate the interest attaching to the process of extrac- 
tion. A dry concentrator for gold would make it 
possible to work many a mine which the absence of 
water now renders unpayable. In the Hopetown 
district alone there is an immense area covered with 
shale which contains gold-bearing copper ore. The 
ore runs 4 ounces to the ton ; the quantity of it 
is practically unlimited, but the district is waterless, 



22 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

and machinery has yet to be found which will 
extract the ore without water from the shale. The 
value of a more perfect system of diamond-sorting 
will be realised by every visitor who spends a spare 
afternoon in the De Beers mine. 

But mining interests are not the only ones which 
are to receive attention in the machinery court. 
Agricultural questions in a country of which the 
soil is so extraordinarily fertile present themselves 
in forms which are scarcely less novel, and are cer- 
tainly not less important. For hundreds and hun- 
dreds of square miles in the neighbourhood of 
Kimberley the now bare veldt would, it is believed, 
bear crops of the same amazing richness as the 
cultivated portions of the Transvaal, if the waters 
of the Orange River, the Modder, and the Vaal 
could be saved from flowing, as they now flow, in 
mere waste out towards the sea. The average level 
of these river - beds is 60 feet below the average 
level of the land. Water - lifting machinery, which 
has done such wonders in Australia, would be no 
less valuable in application here, and Messrs. 
Chaffey Brothers have promised to put their Aus- 
tralian experience at the service of South Africa 
to the extent of sending experimental machinery 
purposely designed. Dairy machinery is also 
in much request, as well as other agricultural 
machinery suitable to farming on a large and 
varied scale. 

Crops and methods in South Africa are un- 
doubtedly more like those of Australia and America 
than of England, and it is perhaps natural that 
American and Australian machinery should appear 
to be beating our own out of the field. Never- 



ii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 23 

theless, from the English point of view it is in- 
finitely regrettable to learn in face of such a 
manifestly opening market that English makers 
will no longer take the trouble to adapt their 
patterns to the new necessities created by the new 
conditions, and that alike in the departments of 
mining and agriculture they are losing ground 
every day. It is hardly, perhaps, realised at home 
how rapidly this transfer of trade is taking place, 
for the increase which, according to old doctrines 
of English manufacturing supremacy, ought to have 
come to England has only existed within the last 
few years. Four or five years ago English firms 
possessed the entire machinery trade of South 
Africa ; but Johannesburg is only five years old, 
and at the present moment the American firm 
of Messrs. Fraser and Chalmers supplies at least 
40 per cent of the mining machinery in use 
on the Rand. 

American firms are active in sending repre- 
sentatives to study requirements on the spot, and 
every effort is made by them to adapt the new 
machines which they send out to the, in many 
cases, entirely new needs of the situation. It is a 
race between new patterns and excellence of 
material, in which latter quality English goods still 
hold their superiority, and new patterns are rapidly 
winning. The case of boilers is a typical one in 
point. Four years ago England had a monopoly 
of the boiler trade. Now, not only are American 
boilers in frequent use, but when a prize was 
offered at the exhibition for an improved form 
more suited to the fuel of the country, the prin- 
cipal American firm volunteered to send out a 



24 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

boiler, set it up, and work it at their own expense 
during the exhibition, while the best known English 
firms decline to compete, on the ground that their 
trade is fully established. So far is it, in truth, 
from being fully established, that it is in danger of 
disappearing altogether, and in all reasonable prob- 
ability the result of the exhibition can only be to 
give a further push to its downward progress. 

If the effect of the exhibition be in any degree 
to develop the gold-bearing and agricultural possi- 
bilities of the Kimberley district, and thus to redeem 
the town from its present position of depending 
exclusively upon the diamond industry, the primary 
object of the local organisation will be gained. In 
its wider scope of developing and adding to the 
knowledge already possessed of South African re- 
sources, and of the past history and future possibili- 
ties of this extraordinarily interesting portion of the 
continent, the opportunities offered by the exhibition 
are to be utilised for scientific and historic purposes. 
It is proposed especially to compile a practical hand- 
book or manual of the mineral and agricultural 
resources of the country, for which purpose a com- 
mittee has been named and circulars sent out inviting 
contributions in the form of both specimens and 
information from men of experience in all parts of 
the colonies and States. 

Soil, water, climate, natural vegetation, crops, 
stock, mineral-bearing formations, systems of agricul- 
ture, fruit-growing, cattle-breeding, fisheries, and 
mining possibilities will all be made the subject of 
close and organised inquiry, and it is believed that a 
comparison of specimens and of the knowledge which 
many African visitors will bring in their own persons 



n LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 25 

to the exhibition ought to result in the acquisition 
of a very valuable body of new facts. There will be 
native courts, which it is proposed to organise on the 
principle of the Japanese village at Kensington some 
years ago, showing the various native industries and 
natives at work upon them ; and amongst the enter- 
tainments which are to take place in the central hall 
of the building there will be a series of lectures upon 
native history and habits. 

The important question of the climate of South 
Africa in its relation to health is also to receive 
attention, and the Sanitary Congress will hold a 
sitting with this special object during the exhibition. 
The other conditions will be much like those of every 
exhibition which has been held of late years. All 
the space that was available for English and foreign 
courts has been engaged. There will be a ladies' 
court, showing the work and industries of the women 
of South Africa ; and for that large majority of the 
public which does not look at the exhibits, there 
will be the usual entertainment in the way of music, 
illuminations, and refreshment rooms. There was a 
design to arrange the grounds as a botanic garden of 
South African plants. The difficulties in the way of 
carrying out the proposal have been found insur- 
mountable in the available time, but as far as it is 
possible South African plants and flowers are to be 
brought together and shown in the fairly extensive 
gardens which surround the buildings. The contract 
for the nightly illumination has been takeig by the 
same firm which is to light the World's Fair of 
Chicago, and an English band is to be imported for 
the occasion. 

The really great obstacle to success which is pre- 



26 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA n 

sented by the distance of Kimberley from the coast 
has been, as far as possible, got over by the co- 
operation of the Cape Government in reducing the 
railway rates and furnishing special advantages in 
excursion trains, and correspondence with Messrs. 
Cook seems to promise the full complement of tourists 
which has been calculated as essential to a satisfac- 
tory balance of accounts. The idea is that the 
extension of the railway through the Transvaal, 
which will enable visitors to Kimberley to extend 
their trip, if they desire it, to Johannesburg, may, in 
combination with the charms of a South African 
spring, bring many holiday-makers, who will find the 
journey not much more expensive and the change 
and scope of travel much greater than that afforded 
by their usual autumn excursion. If this expecta- 
tion prove correct, and South Africa be brought, as it 
well may be, under new developments of steamship 
and railway communication, into the ordinary beat of 
excursionist travel, the Kimberley Exhibition may 
fairly claim to have done a good deal for the material 
development of the country. One of the first require- 
ments of South Africa in its present stage is to be 
seen. It teems with such astonishing possibilities 
that if that be achieved the rest may safely be left to 
time. 



Ill 



Johannesburg. 



The journey from Kimberley to Vereeniging, on 
the Vaal River, which is at present the farthest 
extension of the railway, takes two days and two 
nights. When the cross -line from Kimberley to 
Bloemfontein is constructed through the Free State, 
and the necessity for going round three sides of a 
long parallelogram is got rid of, there will be a 
saving of about eighteen hours. Further improve- 
ments upon the northern part of the line may be 
expected to increase the speed, and the extension to 
Johannesburg, when all is finished, will bring that 
town within twenty-four hours of Kimberley. The 
connecting branch which is so much needed for the 
journey from Kimberley will not affect the railway 
distance from Cape Town, which has already been 
taken along the most direct line, and will measure 
something under a thousand miles to Johannesburg 
and Pretoria. Allowing for some moderate improve- 
ments in speed, it is hoped that before the end of 
the present year it may be possible to go direct 
from Cape Town to Johannesburg in two days and 
a half. The through trains will have sleeping-cars 
and kitchens attached to them, and the journey will 
entail comparatively little fatigue or discomfort. 



28 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA m 

The present terminus on the Transvaal side of 
the Vaal River is a mere engineer's camp upon the 
veldt. It has only been in existence for a few- 
weeks, and is still a confusion of tents and railway 
sleepers, luggage and cooking pots, in the midst of 
which I noted, on the afternoon of our arrival, the 
characteristic detail of no fewer than six pianos 
waiting for the ox-wagons which were to carry 
them away. Passengers and their lighter luggage 
are still conveyed in the wonderful circus-like vehicles 
slung on leathern straps and drawn by a team of ten 
or twelve horses, which not long ago constituted the 
only means of communication. An experience of 
seven hours in one of them over a road deep in 
sand, intersected by streams and broken by unex- 
pected outcroppings of rock, is enough to teach a 
hearty and grateful realisation of the comforts of 
the train. The team was changed five times, giving 
us in all sixty mules to do a journey of about 50 
miles. 

But coaches are already a thing of the past. In 
a very few months they will have ceased to exist 
upon this line of travel, and there is no need to 
dwell upon their miseries. At present the sense of 
connection broken with the outer world and the 
half- day's hard gallop over the bare veldt only 
heighten the effect of the town of Johannesburg 
when it is reached. It is neither beautiful nor im- 
pressive from the aesthetic point of view, but it 
might be set down as it stands in any part of the 
civilised world. It has a population of about 40,000. 
The buildings are good, the streets are broad ; there 
are shops with plate-glass windows full of ball-dresses 
and silver plate ; the residential quarters are rapidly 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 29 

spreading themselves out into squares and boule- 
vards ; a tram-line connects them with the business 
centre ; for 20 miles east and west you may see 
the funnels of mining works smoking against the 
sky ; the sound of an engine-whistle is in your ears, 
and you find that a train has been constructed which 
runs from one end of the Rand to the other. The 
town is lit with gas, water is supplied to all its 
houses, every ordinary appliance of civilisation is 
here ; and, when you remember that it has all been 
done in five years, and that every scrap of material 
has been carried up, and the six pianos waiting at 
the frontier w r ill presently be carried by ox-wagons, 
you begin to realise something of the extraordinary 
conditions which can have called so sudden a de- 
velopment into existence. 

Johannesburg stands upon gold. When I wanted 
to have my conception of the position cleared, an 
engineer, who was showing me over one of the mines, 
took an enamelled iron basin and said : " Imagine 
this thing magnified in thickness, battered a little, 
and elongated to an irregular oval of which the 
longest axis is about 40 miles. If you like you 
can call the white enamel on the inside the hang- 
ing-wall, and the blue enamel on the outside the 
foot - wall. Thus the iron is the gold - bearing 
reef, and you have an imperfect model of what 
we believe we know of the gold formation of the 
Rand." 

The object of all the mines which are situated 
upon the top edge of the lip is to get out the iron 
which represents the gold-bearing reef. The im- 
portant question for each mine is the angle at which 
the reef descends through the ground which has been 



3o LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA in 

secured in surface claims ; and the question of supreme 
importance for the future of the Witwatersrand gold 
industry as a whole is whether the gold reef does 
turn like the basin at the deep levels and lie along 
at a workable depth, or whether it goes away, still 
descending into the bowels of the earth. The model 
would have been more perfect if three basins had 
been put one inside another, for the conglomerate 
gold-bearing beds locally known as "Banket Reef" 
descend in three parallel lines. They have been 
proved in places where they dipped near the surface 
at an angle of 70 degrees to flatten at the 500 feet 
level to an angle of 30 degrees from the horizon. 
The immense advantage of this is evident, for a 
measurement of 3000 feet along the reef, which, if 
the lode were vertical might represent the limit of 
possible work, can here be reached at an actual depth 
of only 1500 feet from the surface. The flattening 
tendency of the angle of descent appears from the 
latest developments to continue. If it does, and if 
the reefs continue rich as they are near the surface, 
there will be no limit to the possible working until 
at some future time the entire gold reef has been 
removed. 

Boring and sinking operations have proved that 
the reefs are, as a general rule, both larger and 
richer in the lower levels than in the upper levels ; 
and, more than this, it has been found that, overlying 
the known series, there are in the lower levels other 
conglomerate beds of a workable size and value 
which give no indication whatever of their existence 
at or near the surface. In one place, at a depth of 
600 feet, there are six lodes of payable size and 
value three of which show no sign on the surface, 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 31 

and only begin to appear in their broken lines of 
conglomerate pebbles at a depth of 300 feet. Indi- 
cations of this kind open prospects of great speculative 
interest in the developments of the near future. There 
is an element of the unknown in it all, but it is of 
an unknown into which many incursions by way of 
experiment have been made, and the opinion of men 
who are in the best position to form well-founded 
conclusions appears to be practically unanimous that 
the productive capacity of the deep levels will 
prove not less than that of the companies work- 
ing on the outcrop itself, while it may prove much 
greater. 

At this moment there are fifty-three companies 
working on the outcrop claims. They employ 3370 
white men and 32,100 natives, and they are pro- 
ducing gold at the rate of ,£4,500,000 sterling per 
annum. And these figures are only an approxima- 
tion to the possible output from existing sources. 
Very few of the mines have attained to more than 
half their full legitimate production. Many are 
working with inadequate machinery and develop- 
ment, and on almost virgin property. Some are 
not at present contributing to the output at all, but 
are developing with a view to future results. Better 
methods of working, modern developments in the 
scientific treatment of ore, and cheapened transport, 
which will allow of the freer use of machinery, must 
steadily increase the total of production. 

One particularly interesting element in the per- 
manent sources of increase is the new departure which 
has lately been made in the chemical treatment of 
concentrates and tailings. Chlorination and cyanide 
works have been established, in which, by an ingenious 



32 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA in 

and simple process, gold is melted by solution out of 
the powdered ore, just as sugar might be melted out 
of sawdust. A quantity of gold which used to be 
lost is in this way recovered, and goes to swell the 
average of production. The amount may be judged 
by the returns for May, which were the latest I was 
able to obtain. The ordinary mill returns gave 
9.99 dwt. of gold per ton of ore produced, while gold 
recovered from all sources brought the average up 
to 12.3 dwt. per ton. The cyanide of potassium 
process has been so lately adopted that tailings are 
being produced eight times faster than they can at 
present be dealt with. The mass of accumulated 
tailings has, therefore, to be reckoned in the assets 
of the future. 

The late depression in shares is another fact which 
is reckoned by the owners of mines as a cause of 
increase in the output. It has had the effect of 
sending underground managers, mining engineers, 
and others employed in the mines away from the 
speculative markets and back to their work, where 
during the boom it was next door to an impossibility 
to keep them. The result has been a considerable 
development, which is now showing fruit. Year by 
year since the first returns were made upon the 
Rand, in the middle of 1887, the figures of the out- 
put have shown a steady increase. For the first 
half-year up to the end of 1887 they were 23,155 
oz. ; in 1888, 208,121 oz. ; in 1889, 369,5 57 oz. ; 
in 1890, 494,817 oz. ; in 1891, 729,338 oz. ; and 
for the six months which have elapsed of 1892 the 
total returns have already reached 562,452 oz. 
There seems to be little doubt in the minds of the 
best men in Johannesburg that this increase might 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 33 

be expected to grow steadily. The opening of the 
railway will further so cheapen transport as to render 
possible the working of a number of low-grade reefs, 
which are at present considered unpayable, and if 
the views generally entertained with regard to the 
deep-level workings be correct, the basin of the Rand 
may be held to be only at the beginning of an 
unparalleled record of gold production. 

The Witwatersrand is the best known, the best 
developed, and probably the richest of the gold-fields 
of the Transvaal, but there are still many others 
of which the capacities have been very imperfectly 
tested. The conglomerate beds of the Klerksdorp 
fields are of low grade, but they are large and 
regular, and they are precisely the sort of reef of 
which the working will profit by the cheapening of 
transport. Barberton, Lydenburg, Zoutpansberg, 
Middelburg, have all yielded returns which are not 
to be despised. In the Malmani, Potchefstroom, 
and Pretoria districts gold-mining is still only in its 
pioneer stage. Gold reefs occur in almost every 
part of the country, and, though the unreliability of 
the rotten quartz lodes of Lydenburg and the gash 
and fissure mines of Barberton and other districts 
has strengthened the belief that in this country con- 
glomerate beds alone can support a really great gold 
industry, no one can say with assured conviction that 
another Rand may not any day be opened to de- 
velopment. Gold does not labour under the dis- 
advantage of diamonds, that over-production is likely 
to lessen its value appreciably in the markets of the 
world. The Transvaal offers, therefore, a practically 
unlimited field of enterprise in this direction. 

Next to gold comes the silver industry. Already 

D 



34 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA m 

the question of its development takes rank in the 
questions which interest Johannesburg with the 
development of the deep levels of the Rand. They 
are two great mining questions of the immediate 
future. Silver zones extend over about 1500 square 
miles of country in the Pretoria and Middelburg 
districts. Some of the lodes are large and of very 
high grade. They have been opened up to a depth 
of 300 feet, and have been proved to have an 
average mineral contents of 25 per cent of lead and 
30 oz. of silver per ton. The shipments which 
have been made have proved highly profitable, but 
only the best ores can stand the cost of transport 
and shipping. Silver-mining as an industry must, 
therefore, depend upon local treatment. The first 
smelting on a large scale will take place this month, 1 
and the result is looked for with great interest as 
well as confidence. With beds so rich and so ex- 
tensive there is little doubt of the ultimate result, but 
profitable development may have to wait, like that 
of other industries, for the opening of the railway. 

It is difficult to imagine as yet how great a 
difference the opening of railway communication will 
make to the development of the Transvaal. The 
country waits for it, as a forest when the sap is 
rising waits for the spring sunshine to bring it into 
leaf. Gold and silver, by their precious quality in 
small bulk, appeal to the imagination, and a country 
which is rich in them is at once reckoned among 
the rich places of the earth. But in the opinion of 
many capitalists the working of these metals only 
touches the fringe of the real mineral wealth which 
is waiting for development. Iron and copper will, it 

1 Written in July 1892. 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 35 

is thought, form the staple of mining industry when 
facilities of transport have made it possible to work 
them at a profit. The quantities which exist are 
sufficient to give employment to successive genera- 
tions long after every scrap of now prospected gold 
and silver has been taken from the ground. 

The country also teems with coal. Coal-fields 
divide and partly encircle the gold and silver regions. 
In the neighbourhood of Bohsberg coal, which is the 
later formation, overlies the gold, the two formations 
having actually been struck in the same shaft. This 
coal is not of good quality, but at Brakpan colliery, 
20 miles by rail from Johannesburg, good steam- 
coal is turned out at the rate of 1 6,000 tons monthly. 
At a vertical depth of 90 feet the seam is 25 feet 
thick, and extends for some miles. The Brakpan pit 
is within a few hundred yards of some of the best 
mines on the eastern end of the Rand. On the 
Vaal River, surrounding the present terminus of 
the Cape railway, there is an extensive coal-field of 
still better class ; and at the Oliphant River pits, 
which, notwithstanding 50 miles of road transport, 
at present supply Johannesburg with gas and coking- 
coal, a coal is obtained which is esteemed to be 
nearly equal to the best imported. 

Almost the whole of the plateau known as the 
High Veldt contains huge coal deposits, and in 
the Heidelburg, Middelburg, Pretoria, Ermelo, and 
Wakkerstroom districts, down to the borders of Swazi- 
land and Natal, there are thousands of square miles 
of coal-beds, of which the value is utterly unknown. 
The mere fact that at Cape Town coal for domestic 
purposes costs at present ^3 : 12s. a ton, and that at 
Kimberley the price has been known to mount to 



36 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA m 

£9 a ton, is enough to illustrate the possible value 
of the Transvaal beds. Many other minerals, such 
as cobalt, asbestos, cinnabar, etc., occur in various 
districts. 

Never was there a country to which the saying 
of Job could be more suggestively applied : 
" Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for 
gold where they fine it. Iron is taken out of the 
earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. ... As 
for the earth, out of it cometh bread." In Johannes- 
burg, whether you will or not, you must take interest 
in the details of mining enterprise. Your ears are 
filled with them from morning to night. Men who 
have been successful in the past are confident of the 
future, and the place literally simmers with the 
energy of fresh undertakings. You are no sooner 
well out of the town than your attention is drawn, 
with scarcely less overwhelming evidence, to the 
agricultural possibilities of the soil. 

Between Johannesburg and Pretoria, on either 
side of the line of the future railway, there lies a 
farm of which the fence measures 24 miles round. 
The extent of it includes mountain-tops and water- 
levels. Scientific farming has only been attempted 
upon it within the last two years, and if I were to 
endeavour to describe the full result I should prob- 
ably be accused of wishing to re-edit Robinson 
Crusoe. Everything that is written of the material 
resources of this astonishing country must read like 
exaggeration, and yet exaggeration is hardly possible. 
The fertility of the soil is no less amazing than the 
mineral wealth. The farm of which I speak lies on 
the northern slopes of the descent from Johannesburg 
— northern having, of course, in this hemisphere the 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 37 

signification of southern in our own. Its valleys 
have, therefore, every advantage of sunny and 
sheltered situation, and it is scarcely too much to 
say that it includes within its fence all the climates 
of the temperate world. The hill-tops have been 
planted with European forest trees — pine, oak, 
chestnut, etc. ; the lower slopes are clothed with 
vines ; and in the valleys plantations of oranges and 
lemons alternate with American, Australian, and 
African timber. 

There is hardly a crop from tea to turnips which 
I did not see in the course of a long morning's 
drive. Among them were the Pyrethrum persicum> 
better known to fame in the form of Keating's insect 
powder, and the pea-nut, of which the pretty habits 
of growth and the profitable nature as an article of 
consumption were alike unknown to me. Another 
specially African crop were the varieties of water- 
melon, which are grown for feeding cattle, and of 
which fields still lay ripening in the sun. It was, 
however, a little late for them, as the plants die down 
under the first frosts, which are usually felt about the 
middle of May. 

Winter is accounted to last here from the 15 th 
of May to the 15 th of August, and during those 
months there is little or no rain. The remaining 
nine months of the year are summer months, during 
which the rainfall is plentiful and regular. Most 
European cereals and roots yield more than one crop 
in the year. Wheat, rye, and barley are sown in 
April, May, June, July, and reaped in September, 
October, and November. Oats are sown the whole 
year round, but only rust -proof varieties in the 
summer. Potatoes are planted every month from 



38 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA m 

August until February. Those planted in August, 
September, and October are ripe and can be used 
for seed to be planted from December to January. 
Swedish turnips, mangold -wurzel, beets, carrots, 
onions, peas, and all varieties of the cabbage family 
are sown and reaped the whole year round. The 
native crops of maize, millet, sorghum, broom-corn, 
sweet-corn, etc., are sown from August to January. 
Sowing and reaping go on all the year side by side 
and there is no fallow time for the ground. 

The best illustration is a mere list of the crops 
which I noted on either side as we drove down one 
avenue alone ; it is to be remembered that we were 
nearly in mid-winter. There were pea-nuts ready 
for reaping and green oats, barley in the ear and 
barley in the shoot, Swedish turnips fit for storing 
and Swedish turnips just shooting, mangold-wurzel 
also in both stages, rye in the ear, carrots quite 
young and carrots ready for storing, potatoes in 
both stages ; and in one immense field the sowers 
and the reapers had literally met. At the far end 
maize was standing, reapers were busy cutting and 
carrying the sheaves of corn, upon their heels sowers 
followed putting wheat into the ground, and at the 
near end, where, my host told me, maize had been 
standing ten days before, thin green blades of wheat 
were already shooting. 

So vigorous is the growth of everything, that 
forest trees planted only two years ago were already 
high enough to give shade ; apples grown from 
seed of March and grafted in October will bear 
fruit this year. With the exception of cherries, 
gooseberries, and currants, all European fruits 
flourish well. Throughout the estate the water- 



hi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 39 

courses which divided the fields were bordered by 
hedges of quince, pear, apple, plum, and peach. 
The gardens contained a profusion of European 
vegetables and fruit trees., Acres of roses, violets, 
and ornamental plants surrounded the house, but 
nothing seemed to impress upon me more vividly 
the rapidity with which the place had sprung into 
being than the simple fact that after hours of driving 
through vineyards, woods, and cornfields we were 
met at the door of the house by a baby child of 
two and a half who was older than everything that 
we had seen. The estate had been named after 
her. When she was born the spot on which it 
stands was nothing but bare veldt. 

The idea occurs at once that this farm may have 
been an exception. So it is in the matter of develop- 
ment, for the Transvaal farms are, as a rule, cattle 
farms upon which little or no agriculture in the 
modern sense is carried on. But I am told that it 
forms no exception whatever in the matter of soil 
and climate. Land near the future railway is valu- 
able, but the owner of the farm assured me that land 
equally fertile may be obtained in almost any other 
part of the Transvaal at the cost of a few shillings 
an acre. Land companies are buying it up ; timber 
companies are planting it, and the spread of lines of 
communication will rapidly raise its value. A good 
many fortunes will no doubt be lost as well as made 
in speculation with it. 

But wherever there is wealth to develop specula- 
tion is only the forerunner of genuine enterprise ; 
and seeing such a soil in one of the very best 
climates of the world, with a mining population 
pouring in to create markets on the spot, it is 



4 o LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA in 

impossible to escape from the conviction that the 
phenomenon which you witness in the eager push of 
development all round is nothing less than a con- 
tinent in the making. The natural resources are 
here, capital and energy have been brought to bear 
upon them, and the country appears to be opening 
by a principle of growth as simple and as irresistible 
as that which governs the opening of a rose in 
summer. Improvement in the material conditions 
is, of course, an essential part of the development. 

At present, notwithstanding the agricultural 
possibilities of the neighbourhood, the price of food 
in Johannesburg and Pretoria is, with the one excep- 
tion of meat, excessively high. A cauliflower in 
Johannesburg will cost as much as 3s., eggs are from 
5s. to 6s. a dozen, a half-quartern loaf costs is., 
milk goes up to is. 6d. a quart, and butter to 5s. 
a pound. The farmer might be supposed to profit, 
but in the long run he does not, for the market is so 
unsteady that there are occasions when he finds it 
impossible to dispose of perishable produce at any 
price, and he never can count upon a regular 
demand. The consumer in self-defence trusts largely 
to tinned and imported food. Hence retaliatory 
endeavours on the one hand to impose prohibitive 
taxes upon food, and upon the other to obtain a 
Customs Union which would include in its advan- 
tages the right of free trade in food stuffs throughout 
South Africa. 

The economic theories of the Dutch agriculturist 
are remarkable, and first among them ranks a belief 
that markets must be treated like French babies and 
closely swaddled to help their growth. The fact 
that a large proportion of French babies die under 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 41 

this process has not, so far as is generally known, 
destroyed the faith of their nurses in the system. 
Nor is the Dutch farmer a bit more naturally in- 
clined to draw logical conclusions from his not 
dissimilar experience. A well-to-do Boer was one 
day boasting that he had obtained exactly double 
the price which he had expected for his wheat. " I 
suppose," an English friend said, congratulating him, 
" that you will sow a double quantity this year." 
" A double quantity ? " replied the Dutchman ; " half 
the quantity you mean ! Don't you see that with a 
double price half the quantity will give me the same 
return ? " The advent of the railway can alone do 
away with this kind of thing. Facilities of trans- 
port will tend to equalise and enlarge existing 
markets as well as to put the supply of the Trans- 
vaal in touch with the demand of the world. This 
done, it is scarcely to be conceived that Dutch pro- 
ducers should remain still unwilling to benefit by 
their wider opportunities. If they should, there is 
but one thing that can happen. They will find 
themselves exposed to the competition of foreigners 
who will settle upon the soil, and they will be forced, 
whether they will or no, to swim with the tide. 
The main fact is, that a tide is rising which promises 
to sweep obstacles of the Dame Partington kind 
irresistibly before it. 

The Transvaal has been proved to be as valuable as 
Mr. Gladstone once thought it valueless, and nothing 
short of a convulsion can arrest the developing move- 
ment in which increasing numbers of men are every 
day finding their individual advantage. The most 
serious hindrance lies in the difficulty of obtaining 
labour, and it is a difficulty which, as I pointed out 



42 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA in 

at Kimberley, has been only very partially sur- 
mounted by the application of the compound system 
to mining districts. 

If I have filled my letter with details which give 
it rather the appearance of a catalogue than a 
description, it is because I want to support as far as 
possible with the argument of facts the conclusion 
that material development is the supreme interest 
of the country. Johannesburg as a town sits in the 
middle of this development, and to a great extent 
directs it. Already it has placed a great distance 
between itself and a mere mining camp, and is 
rapidly advancing to the position which it desires to 
take as the Manchester or Birmingham of South 
Africa. That it has done as much as it has with- 
out any connected line of communication is an 
earnest of the growth which may be expected after 
the railway has placed it upon the highways of the 
world. The opportunities which it offers are very 
great, and there is nothing to wonder at in the fact 
that able and successful men who are gradually 
gathering the development of productive enterprise 
into their hands find a vitality in their daily work 
with which they say that nothing in London or the 
other European centres can compare. These are 
the men who represent the progressive life of the 
place. 

The worthless and unscrupulous speculator who 
has made Johannesburg a byword ot crooked ways 
exists, of course, but it would be unjust not to 
recognise that he exists as a parasite upon a better 
growth. I think it may fairly be said that every- 
thing which is not material development is mere 
excrescence. The conditions of social life are for 



in LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 43 

the most part frankly detestable. It is an opinion 
in which I have no fear that the better portion of 
Johannesburg society will not cordially agree. But 
they are not worth writing about. They must 
evidently change — are changing in fact — with the 
changing future ; and in relation to the future the 
enormous wealth of the country has such a pre- 
ponderating importance that the course which the 
development of that wealth is likely to follow 
absorbs all serious attention. The whole political 
situation hangs upon the material situation. But 
I hope to show this more clearly in a letter from 
Pretoria. 



IV 

Pretoria. 

Pretoria as it is first seen lying in a ford of the 
veldt at the foot of the Johannesburg slopes, with 
its white houses embosomed in trees and gardens, 
divided each from the other by blossoming rose 
hedges, has all the character of the capital of a 
pastoral Republic. As you approach and enter the 
streets you find that its changing position as the 
political centre of a new and rapidly-growing country 
is no less faithfully expressed. The first object 
which struck my eye was a big placard announcing 
in English that an auction of farm-stock would be 
held on the following Thursday. A few steps 
farther on another English advertisement gave 
notice of a political meeting. In the first street 
of shops, bootmakers and haberdashers, stationers 
and butchers, declared their trades in English ; 
announcements of sales, assurances of bargains, were 
all posted up in English. 

Evidently the public whom these things concerned 
was English. At the hotel the coloured servants 
spoke in English, and dinner hour filled the dining- 
rooms with Englishmen. I had occasion to seek 
out a friend whose address I did not know. In the 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 45 

course of a morning's drive, inquiring at perhaps 
twenty houses, though my companion, who was a 
native of the place, served as the medium of 
communication, there was not one house in which 
English was not the common language. The first 
Dutch words which I heard spoken in Pretoria were 
in the house of President Kruger, and a hasty im- 
pression might lead to the belief that the only Dutch 
things in the town are its President and Council. 

This impression is far from being literally accurate. 
The Boer population of the Republic has its fit- 
ting representation here. Dutch feeling and Dutch 
habits of life and thought are the substratum upon 
which the town exists, and Dutch character is too 
sturdy and tenacious to allow itself to be easily 
carried away in the foreign stream. But in relation 
to what may be called the New Transvaal — that is, 
the Transvaal of the modern mining development, 
the Transvaal which is taking its place in the 
competition of the world — the impression is near 
enough to the truth to be accepted as at least 
typifying the actual state of affairs. The pastoral 
Transvaal is Dutch. The industrial Transvaal, 
actually cosmopolitan, is practically an English 
state presided over by a Dutch government. That 
these two Transvaals should be so intimately inter- 
mingled as to have no geographical dividing lines, 
does not alter the fact that the two exist within the 
frontiers traced by the Vaal and Limpopo rivers. 

At present the English Transvaal concerns itself 
very little with politics. It is too busy with the 
work it has undertaken. Time enough when theories 
of government affect the business of development to 
have opinions about them. A President who puts 



46 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

obstacles in the way of the mining industry will be 
roughly hooted at Johannesburg. A President who 
grants running powers to a Cape and Free State 
Railway will be cheered and received with flags and 
triumphal arches. He is one and the same man. 
No matter ! The President is nothing to them ; 
they want mining facilities and cheap transport, and 
take their own impolite, vigorous way of expressing 
the fact. Their concern is with the world rather 
than with the Transvaal. Yet they form part of 
the Transvaal, and as they follow their rough pro- 
gressive road, they drag it half-unconsciously along 
with them. Briefly, their affairs may be said to 
constitute the foreign politics of the Republic, but 
they are generally content to leave them in other 
hands. The affairs of their pastoral neighbours are 
the home affairs to which newcomers are still too 
strange to give a thought. But it is perfectly 
evident that home and foreign affairs cannot remain 
distinct, nor the old and the new Republics exist 
for ever within the same frontier without becoming 
interfused. 

The question of the future is under what con- 
ditions this fusion of interests will take place. 
There are people who regard the two forces as 
necessarily antagonistic. For them it resolves it- 
self into the simpler question of which is to 
dominate the other. But looked at in a broader 
light it is possible to think that, before the day of 
domination comes for either, the interests of both 
are likely to be identical. We have a parallel to 
this position at home, in the apparently opposed 
yet intimately united interests of the Liberals of 
the manufacturing centres and the Tory land- 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 47 

owners of the counties ; and as there is not a 
man of either of the great English parties who 
does not feel that the welfare of England is his 
individual welfare, so it may be believed that 
before many years are past there will not be a 
man of either of the two Transvaals who will not 
feel that the good of the whole is his first and most 
intimate necessity. It may be said that the 
position is not parallel, because at home the 
nationality of both parties is the same, while 
here you have not only two parties but two 
peoples. 

The new element in the situation is that this 
is a country in the making. Its parts are not 
yet welded together. We are assisting at the 
very interesting process, and nothing impresses 
itself more vividly as a result of watching it 
upon the spot than the futility of stirring questions 
of sentimental politics in the face of the over- 
whelming movement which is taking place. The 
operation of natural causes is all in favour of a 
successful issue. Let events take their course. 
The one thing to which they point unmistakably 
is the creation of an enormously rich province 
in South Africa. This is no less advantageous 
to South Africa than it is to the Republic itself, 
and since the increase of development in the Trans- 
vaal is synonymous with the increase of English 
influence there can be no doubt, so far as the 
strictly English part of the position is concerned, 
that English interest is to support and encourage 
the new development in every possible way. The 
natural wealth is Dutch, the energy to develop 
it is English, the profits of the whole will be 



4 8 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

South African. It is almost an ideal situation 
if it can be protected from accident and left to 
the laws of its inherent evolution. 

Unfortunately this is a great deal to ask. It 
means the sacrifice of prejudices on every side, 
and, furthermore, it presupposes that, even in this 
early stage of their coexistence, the wants and 
desires of the Old Transvaal are never to clash 
with the requirements of the New. The New 
Transvaal has no history and no sentiment. It 
has the present situation, and intends to make 
its history in the future. The three essential con- 
ditions to making it successfully are peace, facilities 
of transport, and better labour. If it can get these 
it wants nothing else. 

But with the Old Transvaal the position is 
different. The Old Transvaal has its history, a 
vivid history which men of the last generation 
sacrificed everything to make and some of the 
present generation have fought and died for. It 
has its inheritance of sentiment stronger than any 
logic of self-interest, and there are points upon 
which, no matter what the consequences, its 
burghers take their stand behind their rifles and 
say, in the old Lutheran phrase, " We can no 
otherwise." To suppose that it can see without 
jealousy the new English Transvaal growing rapidly 
in its midst is to suppose the impossible. It 
may be for the ultimate good of the Republic 
that its resources should be utilised ; but there is 
scarcely a farmer in the whole population w T ho does 
not dread and resent the finding of payable 
minerals upon his farm. The anecdotes which 
abound with regard to their conduct when the 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 49 

fear is realised and minerals are found have their 
touching as well as their comic side. Corn and 
stock, not gold and silver, constitute their wealth. 
If a man can sell his farm and move on, well 
and good ; trekking enters into their customs and 
costs them little. 

But " moving on " grows more and more difficult 
every day. Where are they to move to ? They 
look round them. South and west there is no issue. 
Northward ? They used to think, not many years 
ago, that there across the Limpopo lay a limitless 
field in which their instinct of expansion might find 
play for generations yet to come. But their President 
— the man whom they themselves have chosen for 
their head — has entered into a compact with England 
by which he binds himself and them never to extend 
the frontier beyond the river. England is filling that 
country which they had vaguely thought of as theirs. 
They fall back like caged animals upon themselves 
and the farms rendered hateful to them by the sound 
of pick and stamp battery close at hand, and turn 
their faces eastward towards the sea. Out that way 
beyond the mountains, out that way towards the 
world, their appetite for space and freedom may 
be gratified. They have, after all, the blood of old 
Holland in their veins. The land of the continent 
has been closed to them. They ask for a sea-gate. 
It is easy to understand. They see that England 
has surrounded them by a ring fence, that she has 
even made irruption in irrepressible form within the 
fence. They feel the danger that they may be stifled 
out of their national existence, and they want an 
air-hole. They think that it will be more possible 
to contend with the foreign influence that permeates 

E 



50 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

their being if they have ships of their own upon the 
sea. It strikes the English observer as a natural 
but rather pathetic hope. They are too late. Other 
nations are too far ahead of them in the naval race. 
If war should break out in Europe they must trust 
to England to protect them. In peace that must 
inevitably happen to them which happens to all 
nations. Their commercial navy will be the pos- 
session of their merchant princes — that is to say, of 
the very New Transvaal against whose supremacy 
its creation is now designed to strike a blow. 

It is not, therefore, without significance that the 
Dutch language should have first greeted me at 
President Kruger's door. In crossing his threshold 
I entered the region of Dutch sentiment. There was 
nothing of which he wished to speak to me except 
the Swazi question, and upon this he put his views 
very frankly and forcibly before me. 

" We feel," he said, " that we have a right to 
Swaziland. It belonged to us before England took 
the Transvaal. Had the Transvaal remained English, 
Swaziland would have remained an integral part 
of the country. Because the Transvaal was given 
back to the Dutch England separated the two and 
retained the annex. Is it of any use to her ? None ! " 

He recapitulated the arguments arising from the 
geographical position of the Swazi country, and the 
great difficulty, amounting almost to impossibility, of 
approaching it from any English frontier. 

" The Amatonga swamps and the Lebombo 
mountains give it to us. I have only to refer you 
to the report of your own Commissioner, Sir Francis 
de Winton, for our arguments. I desire no better 
statement of our case. He shows you what is the 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 51 

truth, that not only it ought to be ours, but, as a 
matter of fact, it already is ours in all but name. 
We hold all the valuable concessions, and we have 
all the practical expenses of administration. The 
right to build railways, the roads, the posts, the 
telegraphs — all State rights are in our hands. You 
could not take these over without incurring an 
expenditure much greater than they involve to us, 
because to us Swaziland, surrounded as it is on three 
sides by the Transvaal, represents merely an exten- 
sion of our own system ; to you it would represent 
the creation of a separate system at many hundreds 
of miles from your nearest base. We are glad for 
the sake of our own people to do what we do for it 
under present circumstances. 

" The grazing rights are all held and enjoyed by 
Boers, who naturally desire to remain under their 
own Government. The natives look to us, and are 
constantly asking to be taken under our protection. 
Historically, geographically, administratively, it is 
ours. All this being so — admitted so by English 
as well as by Dutch statements of the case — you 
will understand the strong feeling with which the 
Dutch people asks, ' Why is it kept from us ? ' It 
is kept by right of the strongest, not to do yourselves 
good, but to do us harm. Well, if we were dangerous 
to you the argument might have some force. But 
who are we? What can we do? Can we rival 
England ? Can we even injure England ? You are 
afraid to give us a seaport ! Can our two or three 
ships upon the sea upset the balance of the first 
Navy of the world ? England, who has everything 
to gain by working with us ! Show me what it is 
that she fears from us ? " 



52 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

I suggested the possibility of some future Pre- 
sident of the Transvaal seeking to ally himself with 
a foreign Power, and to introduce a foreign influence 
into South Africa. 

" With England surrounding us on three sides by 
land, with English railways able to place English 
troops upon our frontier, with English ships upon 
the sea ? Impossible ! The work of England and 
the Transvaal in South Africa is the same work." 
Clasping his hands vigorously, he turned to me, 
" We ought to be working together thus," showing 
the interlaced fingers and palms pressed one to 
another. " Instead we are doing this " — and he 
struck one forefinger across the other — " hindering, 
not helping, the development which is good alike for 
all. You think that if I had a port I might give 
encouragement and preference to foreigners. It is 
nonsense ! England, if she will but treat me fairly, 
shall have the preference always. I personally 
sympathise with her, because she is the only country 
which has the same religious spirit as the Transvaal. 
But if it were not so I must, for reasons of interest, 
still give her every preference. I give you my word 
that I ask nothing better than to work with England 
as a younger brother might work with his elder. I 
desire to be in amity and in profitable relations with 
the greatest power in South Africa, but I will not 
work with her as a slave. If I would I could not. 
Our spirit as a people is too much like the English 
spirit. It is stronger than us ; it masters any 
advantage that we might gain, and forces us to 
maintain our independence." 

He spoke with a rugged emotion, which had its 
own peculiar force, and from all that I have been 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 53 

able to learn his representation of the feeling of the 
people is strictly true. An essential difference 
between the Old Transvaal and the New Transvaal 
is that the Old Transvaal is ready, if necessary, to 
fight, and the New Transvaal is not. " And now 
can you wonder," he continued, " that 4 we feel sore 
when we find that a Government as strong and 
prosperous as the English Government, a Govern- 
ment with which all our best interests incline us to 
work harmoniously, can condescend to trick and 
quibble with us, and time after time take the 
advantage of our mutual agreements, yet hold back 
the price for which we made them ? " 

This is not the place in which to attempt an 
exposition of the whole Swazi question, but in order 
that the feeling of President Kruger and his people 
may be understood, it is necessary to indicate very 
briefly the course of its later developments. The 
convention of 1884 bound both England and the 
Transvaal to respect the independence of Swaziland. 
The same convention bound the Transvaal not to 
enlarge its northern border. No measures were 
taken to enforce the observance of these conditions, 
and, as a matter of fact, the Boers of the Transvaal 
spread both into Swaziland and across the Limpopo 
northwards, where they explored and made treaties 
with the chiefs. 

When the British South Africa Company obtained 
its charter it became necessary to take note of the 
informal extension of Dutch influence to the north. 
Swaziland was at the same time rapidly falling into 
anarchy. Sir Francis deWinton was sent to Swazi- 
land, and made his report upon the condition of 
affairs. It was informally understood that it would 



54 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

be an arrangement satisfactory to all sides if Swazi- 
land were handed over to the Transvaal, and in 
return the Transvaal should renounce any advantage 
which it might have obtained under treaties with 
native chiefs towards the north, where it should give 
all its influence and support to the chartered com- 
pany. The arrangement was not carried out. Pre- 
sident Kruger was informed that it was not con- 
sidered desirable that Swaziland . should pass 
immediately under the sole sway of the Republic, 
and the present system of joint jurisdiction was 
temporarily established. 

It will be remembered that opinion in England 
was at that time very much divided as to the ulti- 
mate destination of Swaziland. Its cession to the 
Transvaal was advocated in the Press as late as the 
month of February of 1890. It is not surprising 
that the Government of the Transvaal, fresh from the 
impression of Sir Francis de Winton's report, believed 
that at the expiration of the term fixed for the 
temporary government the country would be formally 
transferred to it. At a meeting between the Presi- 
dent and the High Commissioner at Blignaut's Pont 
in March this hope was destroyed. A draft con- 
vention, which reaffirmed the independence of the 
Swazi people, was reluctantly accepted by President 
Kruger, subject to the approval of his Council. The 
Council refused to ratify his acceptance, and by the 
middle of the year the position had become so 
strained that war was on the point of breaking out. 
Rifle practice became a regular institution among the 
Boers in Swaziland. An English police force was 
understood to be in readiness to cross the frontier. 
Natives were preparing to range themselves upon 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 55 

either side. It was at this crisis that Mr. Hofmeyr 
was induced to undertake his mission to Pretoria as 
special agent of Her Britannic Majesty. 

Mr. Hofmeyr has rendered many services to the 
Empire. None is deserving of more grateful recogni- 
tion than that which he rendered by saving us in the 
summer of 1 890 from another African campaign. 
War would not only have put an end with its first 
shot to the policy of conciliation between the Dutch 
and English inhabitants of South Africa, to which 
Mr. Hofmeyr has consecrated the labours of his own 
public life ; it would have been disastrous to the 
material development of the country, and have thrown 
back for, perhaps, another generation the chances of 
that peaceable expansion which is the complement 
of conciliation. 

It is probable that the English public will never 
realise all that it owes him in this respect, because it 
can never know how close and real the peril was. He 
arrived in Pretoria in the last days of June. He had 
to achieve the difficult and delicate task of negotiat- 
ing the acceptance of a distasteful convention, in the 
provisions of which it must have been well known 
from his public utterances upon the subject that he 
did not himself heartily concur. He succeeded by 
force of the same directness of purpose and simplicity 
of action which have made his name respected in all 
camps of politicians in the colony. He took the 
convention himself as a compromise. He induced 
the Transvaal Government to accept it in the same 
spirit. Diplomacy would have been useless. He 
laid it aside and spoke the plain truth to the Presi- 
dent. He put him face to face with the consequences 
of war. He pointed out to him that England could 



56 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

not afford to have another Majuba, and that war 
must mean nothing less than the wiping of the 
Transvaal off the map. The arguments of sentiment 
were ruthlessly met by arguments of fact. At the 
same time he admitted the strength of the Dutch 
case, and the Government of Pretoria was given to 
understand that if the proposed arrangement were 
temporarily accepted a modification of it in the direc- 
tion desired by the Transvaal would afterwards be 
favourably entertained by Her Majesty's Government. 

The understanding was entered into verbally, and 
a memorandum of it was embodied in the third clause 
of an authorised communication which Mr. Hofmeyr 
made to President Kruger on 1 7th July. The word- 
ing of the clause is as follows : " Her Majesty's 
Government will be prepared, when the joint Govern- 
ment is established and concession claims are settled, 
to consider such questions as the Government of the 
South African Republic may bring before it with a 
desire to meet the wishes of the South African 
Republic as far as possible." The Dutch Govern- 
ment, having verbally explained that the question 
which they would bring before Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment would be the cession of Swaziland, were anxious 
to give weight to this communication by inserting it 
as an article of the convention. This was refused 
by Mr. Hofmeyr on the ground that in his letter of 
17th July " the Dutch Government already possessed 
the written promise of Her Majesty's Government, 
and that should be accepted as sufficient guarantee 
that the obligations will be acknowledged." 

The Dutch Blue Book which contains this corre- 
spondence contains also a further despatch from the 
High Commissioner, in which he guarantees the 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 57 

signature of Mr. Hofmeyr as binding. The conven- 
tion was signed at Pretoria on the 2nd of August. 
The Transvaal obtained under its terms the right to 
acquire a seaport at Kosi Bay, and bound itself to 
abstain from any attempt to extend its frontier to 
the north. 

These details are a little tedious, but necessary, 
in order to show the ground upon which the Govern- 
ment of the Transvaal base the very sore and bitter 
feeling that is entertained. There may be, of course, 
a difference of opinion as to how much was conceded 
by the verbal understanding that underlay the claim 
in question. There can be no doubt of the con- 
struction which the Dutch Government puts upon 
it. " This," President Kruger said to me in summing 
up the situation, u is how we regard the matter. 
Great Britain, in the person of her representative, 
refused to enter into a bond with us, but gave us 
the word of a gentleman. We accepted that word. 
We fulfilled our part of the bargain upon trust, and 
the word has not been kept. We have no redress. 
There is nothing in the bond to show what our ex- 
pectations were, but the Swazi question now bars 
the way to all hearty co-operation with English 
schemes — first, by the irritation which it causes; 
secondly, by the fact that so long as that which we 
hold to be a promise is unredeemed it is not possible 
to put faith in any promise made by England. 
Treaties are in the nature of things invalidated 
beforehand." 

To this it may be replied that there is evidently a 
misunderstanding as to their conception of what the 
British Government undertook to do, and as for the rest 
the convention of 1 890 gives them practically all they 



58 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA iv 

want. It recognises the principal concessions which 
they hold ; it leaves them undisturbed in the posses- 
sion of their grazing rights ; it gives them power to 
acquire a seaport, and agrees to recognise the sove- 
reignty of the South African Republic in respect of 
land purchased from the native rulers of the coast 
for the purpose of constructing a railway to the sea. 
They have the nut. Why are they so anxious for 
the nutshell ? I venture to put the argument the 
other way. Since we have given them the nut, why 
do we quarrel for the nutshell ? Every solid advan- 
tage which it was once feared to grant has been 
conceded. All that remains to us is an expensive 
and irksome responsibility for an unhealthy country, 
into which, in the event of a disturbance, there is, in 
Sir Hercules Robinson's words, no entrance for our 
troops but by balloon. Is this worth retaining at 
the cost of a standing irritation between ourselves 
and an otherwise friendly neighbour ? The English 
situation in the Transvaal is good enough. Suppose 
the construction of a harbour. Suppose the creation 
of a navy. Suppose every form of satisfactory de- 
velopment in the Dutch Republic. Who will benefit 
by it? 

If I have succeeded in these two letters in showing 
anything it must be that we have only to maintain 
friendly relations with the Transvaal, and there is no 
gain of hers which will not be also a gain of ours. 
There is no reason why we should wish to overpower 
her Government or to cramp her growth. Our 
interests are in the best sense united, and if we can 
but pocket old-fashioned red rags, and confine our- 
selves to the development of industrial and other 
enterprise in which the lead is granted to us without 



iv LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 59 

a question, the next generation of Englishmen will 
have no reason to complain of the situation which 
will have been created for them in South Africa. 
What English supremacy demands is not the de- 
struction of other Governments nor the suppression 
of other individualities. There is room for all these 
under her wing. It is railway development, customs 
union, gradual modification of other conditions which 
now impede the current of expansion, above all, an 
increased white population. Political convulsion can 
only hinder the attainment of these ends, and, if the 
day has not yet arrived in which our swords may 
be safely beaten into ploughshares, South Africa can 
claim to have reached at least a preliminary stage 
in which the steam-engine has become a more 
effective instrument of empire than the cannon. 



V 

Bloemfontein. 

As the train rolls over the monotonous stretches 
of veldt which lie between Bloemfontein and the 
frontier of the Orange Free State, you have time to 
meditate upon the changes which are likely to be 
produced in such a country as this by the introduc- 
tion of modern means of locomotion. From sunrise 
to sunset the prospect remains the same. On all 
sides a yellow plain of grass, overhead a blue plain 
of sky, not a tree, not an eminence of any kind to 
break the distant meeting line, only here and there 
between the two a swarm of locusts, fluttering snow- 
white if the sun be upon them, and here and there 
ant-heaps in regular rows, which look as if they had 
been prepared for some agricultural purpose. Cattle 
browse upon the grass. Occasionally there is a 
farm, still more rarely a village. From time to time 
the course of a distant stream may be traced by the 
greener line of herbage and brushwood which it 
marks upon the plain. Otherwise through the long 
hours there is no change. The eyes open in the 
morning upon the prospect on which they closed at 
night. 

The distances, with nothing to mark them, seem 
immense, and imagination recoils from the endeavour 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 61 

even to conceive the patience required for traversing 
them without the aid of steam. Yet there is some- 
thing in the mild wide landscape which reminds you 
irresistibly of the " trekker " in his white -tented 
wagon whom you passed at the beginning of your 
journey in the Karoo. Here you feel is the goal to 
which he travelled ; it is the true home of the ox 
wagon. Here the animals can obtain fodder and 
the driver meat. Here there is room for every man 
to put the wide space which he desires between him- 
self and his neighbour. Here is essentially the 
Dutchman's country. 

The Orange Free State is absolutely an inland 
State. The shortest distance that lies between its 
frontier and the Indian Ocean is 150 miles, and on 
the other side the Orange River, after it leaves the 
border, has still a course of 500 miles to run before 
it reaches the Atlantic. The mountains of Natal, 
Basutoland, and the eastern districts of Cape Colony 
enclose it on the south and east, and shut from it 
even so much as a sea-wind. The veldt is its only 
ocean, and this until two years ago had been crossed 
by no vessel but a wagon. 

From the foot of the mountains the Free State 
slopes gently towards the north — that is, towards the 
equator and the sun. It always maintains an aver- 
age elevation of about 5000 feet above the sea, and 
it contains within its lozenge-shaped frontier 72,000 
square miles, or an area about a third of the size 
of France, of scarcely broken plains which are swept 
by the dry desert air. Its climate is hardly to be 
matched throughout the world. In the absence of 
salt water it is almost entirely surrounded by fresh 
water. The Klip Vaal, Caledon and Orange Rivers 



62 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

form a natural moat along at least five-sixths of its 
boundary. Other small streams traverse it from 
south to north. None of the land remains now un- 
owned, but the population averages rather less than 
two persons — one white and one black — to the square 
mile, almost the whole of it being South African 
born. With few exceptions, such as the diamonds 
at Fauresmith, the minerals have not been worked. 
It is a purely pastoral and agricultural State, and 
the possibilities of development which lie before it 
are practically untested. This is the history of all 
internal States until easy means of communication 
have been opened for them with the world, and at 
Bloemfontein, which entered upon a new state of 
being when the railway reached it eighteen months 
ago, the question of communications is now regarded 
as the question of supreme importance. 

It does not need the memory of an old man to 
recall the time when not only Bloemfontein but the 
whole peninsula was without a single line of rail. 
Thirty years ago private companies were only be- 
ginning to grasp the necessity for developing the 
country from the seaports, and the first South African 
railway between Cape Town and Wellington was 
not opened until 1863. Another line from Port 
Elizabeth to Uitenhage was begun by a private 
company, but when the Government took over the 
railways in 1873 there were only 63 miles of rail- 
way open in the country. Since that time more 
than 2000 miles have been constructed, and the 
traffic over them pays interest of 4 J per cent 
upon a capital of £16,500,000. This is exclusive 
of the railways of Natal, which do not yet form a 
part of the Cape and Free State system. 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 63 

The first policy of the Government after taking 
over the existing lines was to push them from the 
coast into the cultivated districts of the near neigh- 
bourhood. The Cape Town line was advanced to 
Beaufort, and the Port Elizabeth line to Cradock on 
the one branch and Graaf Reinet upon the other, 
before any decision was taken as to the ultimate 
point of junction. A third port line was opened 
from East London to King William's Town in 1877. 
Brandy, wool, skins, and feathers were the principal 
markets which the lines were designed to serve. It 
was supposed that they would some day converge 
upon a given point in the interior, but it was not 
until the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley and 
the addition of Griqualand West to the colonial 
territory that the Kimberley trade leaped into sudden 
importance, and Kimberley became the goal of all 
the railways. A point of junction was chosen at De 
Aar for the Cape Town and Cradock lines, and a 
main line was pushed on from there to the Orange 
River, whence, in consequence of Sir Charles Warren's 
expedition in 1885, it was continued into Kimberley. 
The East London line was in the meantime ex- 
tended to Aliwal North, upon the borders of the 
Free State. Thus the system within the colony 
itself was completed, and local opposition on the 
part of the more conservative farming population, 
which was at one time strong, became a thing of 
the past. 

There was, however, no connection between the 
colony and the neighbouring Republics, and dis- 
coveries of gold in the Transvaal were already, by 
the time the railway had reached Kimberley, be- 
ginning to draw trade as the diamonds had done. 



64 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

All eyes looked towards Johannesburg. The question 
for the directors of South African railway construc- 
tion was how to tap its trade at the nearest point. 
In 1882 a concession had been granted by the 
Government of the Transvaal to the Netherlands 
South African Railway Company to construct a rail- 
way from the borders of Portuguese territory on the 
eastern coast into Pretoria, but, in consequence of 
difficulties with Colonel M'Murdo, the concessionaire 
for the construction of the line through Portuguese 
territory to the sea at Delagoa Bay, nothing had 
been done. The Transvaal, therefore, was without 
any railway of its own, and seemed likely to remain 
so for an indefinite period. The prize lay between 
the two English colonies, and Natal had already 
built a line to Ladysmith, about 190 miles inland. 

Railway extension passed at this point from a 
question of local advantage to a question of South 
African politics. All parties desired it. The 
division of opinion was upon the manner in which it 
should be carried out. In consequence of the dead- 
lock which had taken place in his own railway 
extension in the Transvaal, President Kruger refused 
his consent to any immediate extension of colonial 
lines into his territory. He could not, of course, 
forbid either Natal or the Cape to extend their rail- 
ways if they chose to the extreme limits of their 
territory and his. He could only lay before them 
his not unnatural dislike to see the trade of his own 
country taken away before his railway was con- 
structed, and he asked them as a neighbourly act to 
give him a fair chance of competing for it by waiting 
until the difficulties with the Portuguese part of his 
line had been got over. He put his proposal in the 



v - LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 65 

form of a request that Natal would remain at Lady- 
smith and the Cape at Kimberley until the Nether- 
lands Railway Company got upon the high veldt 
120 miles from Delagoa Bay. 

It is important to remember that Johannesburg, 
which is still, as it was then, the goal of the South 
African railway system, is 6000 feet above the sea. 
From whatever point of the coast it is reached this 
ascent has to be made. On the Delagoa Bay line, 
which is geographically the shortest of them all, 
there are portions where the gradient is 1 in 
20, and to get the line upon the high veldt was 
equivalent to achieving the most difficult as well as 
the most costly part of the construction. 

Natal, it may be briefly said, disregarded 
President Kruger's wish, and pushed on her Lady- 
smith line to Charlestown upon the Transvaal 
frontier. In the Cape Parliament in 1888 Sir 
Gordon Sprigg's Government proposed a scheme 
of extending each of the three Cape lines as far as 
they could be carried to the borders respectively of 
the Free State and the Transvaal. The part of the 
scheme which involved extension to the Transvaal 
frontier was strenuously opposed by Mr. Hofmeyr 
and the majority of his party, who declared them- 
selves in favour of respecting President Kruger's 
wish, and of carrying on the Cape railway system 
by extension into the Free State. The scheme 
was carried, but in the following session, in defer- 
ence, it was supposed, to the drift of the general 
election which took place between the sessions of 
1888-89, Sir Gordon Sprigg abandoned the exten- 
sion to the Transvaal frontier and adopted the 
policy indicated by Mr. Hofmeyr. He concluded a 

F 



66 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

Customs Union with the Free State and entered 
into a convention to build the railway as far as 
Bloemfontein. 

This convention was subject to an agreement 
entered into between the Presidents of the two 
Republics at Potchefstroom that the railway should 
not be carried further than Bloemfontein without 
the consent of President Kruger. About the same 
time the British South Africa Company got its 
charter, and the Kimberley line was, by arrangement, 
extended to Vryburg. Sir Gordon Sprigg's Ministry 
was defeated in the early part of the session of 
1890 upon a scheme of railway development within 
the Colony, and the present Government took office. 
The Vryburg and Bloemfontein extensions were 
both of them completed in December of 1890, thus 
creating the basis of the two future trunk lines of 
South Africa — the one from Cape Town to join the 
Netherlands railway line in Pretoria, and so gain 
an issue by Delagoa Bay, connecting as it goes the 
two Republics, and possibly some day Natal ; the 
other within British territory, to push up probably 
by degrees as far as British territory may extend 
throughout the continent, and to gather on its way 
all branch lines running east and west, beginning 
with the line about to be constructed from Beira to 
Fort Salisbury. 

The destiny of the Vryburg line is still a question 
of the future ; the Bloemfontein line has fulfilled in 
great part the intention with which it was con- 
structed. The opening of the railway in 1890 gave 
the Free State a new standing in South Africa. 
Its wishes and its affairs became at once of more 
importance, and every one now sees, what in 1888 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 67 

Mr. Hofmeyr alone was astute enough to recognise, 
that its influence with the Transvaal was worth 
winning. Incidentally the result achieved in this 
matter of railway extension may be taken as one of 
the fruits of the policy of conciliation. While the 
Natal railway still remains at Charlestown, 180 
miles from the point which it desires to reach, the 
Cape and Free State railway is on the point of 
entering Johannesburg. A Cape railway alone 
might have remained, like the Natal railway, to this 
day upon the frontier of the Transvaal at Fourteen 
Streams, further even than Charlestown from 
Johannesburg, for we have not done much to dis- 
pose President Kruger towards friendly concessions 
to us personally. 

We owe our present favourable position in large 
measure to our friendship with the Free State. 
President Reitz was naturally desirous of obtaining 
for the Free State agriculturists as large a share as 
possible of the produce trade with Johannesburg, 
and the extension was scarcely completed to 
Bloemfontein when President Kruger was induced 
to sanction a further development through the Free 
State to the frontier of the Transvaal at Vereeniging, 
a distance of only 50 miles from Johannesburg. 

In December of 1891, in return for a loan made 
by the Cape Government to the Netherlands Railway 
Company for the purpose of constructing the line 
from the frontier to Johannesburg and Pretoria,' 
running powers into both those towns were granted 
to the trains of the Cape and Free State line. The 
extension to the frontier was opened on the 26th of 
May of this year, and it is expected that the first 
train will run into Johannesburg and Pretoria in the 



68 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

middle of September. In the meantime the Delagoa 
Bay line has advanced to Nels Spruit upon the high 
veldt, about 150 miles from Delagoa Bay, and 
Natal, seeing that the way to the Transvaal lies, 
after all, through the Free State, has also extended 
her railway to Harrismith, upon the Free State 
border. 

It has been a sharp struggle, in which the sagacity 
and the command of capital of the Cape have estab- 
lished her position as the premier State of South 
Africa ; and the only matter of regret is that the 
rivalry which it has engendered between two English 
colonies should continue. Even this, perhaps, is 
not altogether a matter of regret, for rivalry, under 
judicious guidance, may tone down to wholesome 
competition, by which in the long run the public of 
the South will benefit. One of the conditions of 
the Cape agreement with the Transvaal is a personal 
promise from President Kruger that no better terms 
than those which have been granted to the Cape 
shall be given to any other Power which extends 
its railways into the Republic. This has been 
construed into an unfair and unfriendly attempt to 
debar Natal from extending its lines in due course. 
As a matter of fact, it is not so. It is nothing 
more than a parallel to the most favoured nation 
clause of any treaty, and was necessary for purposes 
of legitimate self-protection. 

The immediate effect with regard to the extension 
of the Natal line from Charlestown would, however, 
be to weight goods carried over it with the same 
rate per mile that they pay upon the Cape railway 
from the point at which it enters the territory of the 
Republic. This rate is 6d. per ton. The distance 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 69 

from the point of entrance of the Cape railway at 
Vereeniging to Johannesburg is 52 miles. The 
total cost for each ton of goods is therefore 26s. 
The distance from Charlestown to Johannesburg is 
180 miles. The total cost for each ton of goods 
would be 90s., and this, added to the cost of carrying 
them to Charlestown over a line of which the 
gradients are very steep, is practically prohibitive. 
The Cape line could always deliver the same goods 
from Port Elizabeth or East London at a lower 
price. 

The scheme of a Charlestown extension is, there- 
fore, likely for the present to be abandoned, but the 
Harrismith extension through the Free State remains. 
Here Natal would, of course, desire to strike by the 
shortest route across the Free State and join the 
existing railway at Vereeniging. But the Free State 
had to have its say. Its voice in such matters now 
has weight. It has obtained the market which it 
required for its own produce at Johannesburg. It 
can afford to wait for further developments, but if a 
railway is to be constructed over its territory, it 
must be run for the purposes of the Free State as 
well as of Natal. In order to do this, it must 
traverse the agricultural districts of the east and 
strike the existing railway not further north than 
Kronstad — that is, with 90 miles to run upon 
the Cape and Free State rails. In other words, 
it must become a branch of the existing trunk 
line. 

The Natal Government has not yet expressed 
its intentions with regard to its future course. It 
had been hoped that the meeting of President 
Reitz and Sir Charles Mitchell at the late opening 



70 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

of the extension to Harrismith would have resulted 
in an understanding upon these and other questions 
between the two Governments, but the impression 
brought back from the meeting appears to be that 
Natal is waiting to watch the course of further 
developments in the Transvaal before coming to 
any decision. In the meantime it has shown a 
keen determination to compete by train and wagon 
with the train service of the Cape, and in order 
to do so it has celebrated the opening of the 
Harrismith extension by a reduction of its carry- 
ing rates. The Cape has retaliated by a corre- 
sponding reduction. 

I have not yet been in Natal, and, therefore, 
wish to say as little as possible about the attitude 
of that colony in the matter. This, however, may 
be said without fear of contradiction, that Natal 
has depended largely upon the carrying trade for 
the security of her financial position. Any cir- 
cumstances tending to destroy that trade { would 
constitute a serious misfortune, and, in fighting 
against the advantage which the Cape has gained 
by pushing its railway into Johannesburg, Natal 
is struggling to retain what it conceives to be the 
natural advantage of its own geographical position. 
Durban, it contends, is nearer to Johannesburg than 
East London. Therefore, it must be able to put 
goods into Johannesburg more cheaply than East 
London can. Here comes in again the fact, all 
important when tariffs have to be fixed, that 
Johannesburg is 6000 feet above the sea. 

The reply of Cape authorities to the Natal 
argument is that, although geographically nearer, 
Durban is topographically further than the Cape 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 71 

ports from the seat of the Transvaal trade. It 
is not always shorter to go up the face of a 
mountain than round the shoulder, and when loco- 
motive power has to be paid for and interest 
calculated upon the expenses of railway construc- 
tion it will be found, they say, that neither is 
it cheaper. Twenty miles of railway through the 
Drakensberg mountains, which the Natal lines have 
to cross, cost more than 100 miles across the 
Free State. 

I have no personal knowledge of the financial 
position of the Natal railways. The Cape railways 
contribute, as the Treasurer - General pointed out 
in his Budget speech, little less than half the 
public revenue. The capital which is invested in 
them represents three - fifths of the whole debt of 
the colony, and they bring in a net profit of 
.£4:13:4 upon every hundred pounds. Together 
with the Customs, which their development tends 
largely to increase, they are estimated to yield this 
year £3,640,000 of the total revenue of £4,730,480, 
and in connection with their effect in increasing 
trade, and thereby adding to the Customs revenue, 
it may be interesting to note that the tonnage 
of vessels leaving and entering Cape ports has 
increased in the fifteen years since the construction 
of railways began in earnest to nearly seven times 
what it was before. The figures of the imports 
and exports for successive years are scarcely less 
satisfactory. The total for 1886, taken together, 
was £11,277,344. The total for last year, as 
given in the Treasurer's speech, exclusive of goods 
imported for the use of the Colonial and Imperial 
Governments, was £18,303,428. These figures 



72 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

have a double interest They not only demon- 
strate the solid basis of the statement made by 
the Commissioner of Crown Lands in presenting 
his railway agreements to the House, to the effect 
that he has a good margin to come and go upon 
for working profit, and that if there is to be a war 
of rates between the Cape Colony and Natal it 
is not the Cape which will go to the wall, but 
they also show the very important place which the 
development of railways holds in the prosperity of 
the colony, and the security which they give to 
holders of colonial stock. 

Assuming the position of the Natal railways 
to be relatively as good — and as to this I have 
no information beyond the published statement 
that they pay an interest of £4 : 12 : 7 per 
cent upon the invested capital of between three 
and four millions — it is still evident that in case 
of a commercial war, where the opposing hosts are 
represented by 16,000,000 on the one side and 
4,000,000 on the other, the 16,000,000 are 
likely to win. In the trials of their strength 
both may, however, suffer considerably, and as they 
are neither of them private commercial enterprises, 
but Government undertakings — that is to say, 
really the property of the taxpayers of each colony 
— the public has not the selfish interest that it 
otherwise might have in seeing them ruin them- 
selves for the consumers' benefit. Still less would 
it be economically sound that they should ruin 
themselves for the benefit of the Transvaal. 

The proposal which this condition of things leads 
up to is that a railway union should be formed 
between the South African colonies and States, and 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 73 

the tariffs become a matter of mutual agreement. 
The Netherlands Railway Company is in every- 
thing but name the Transvaal Government. There 
is no reason, therefore, why this railway should not 
be included in the union. The differing interests of 
the uniting States would, it is contended, be a 
sufficient guarantee that rates would be kept down 
to a reasonably low figure, and they would be fixed 
in a fair proportion to working expenses, so that 
each Government would still have the incentive to 
good management which is at present supplied by 
open competition. The whole is simply a question 
of the distribution of taxes. 

The result aimed at by the advocates of the 
railway union is to be able to maintain the present 
system of indirect taxation through the railway rates, 
which has been found to be a cheap and convenient 
form of collecting revenue. The argument of their 
opponents is that to use railway rates as a form of 
taxation is to undo with one hand what has been 
done by the other, and to stultify the development 
which the construction of railways is intended to 
promote. An excise tax and a tax on diamonds 
are both of them thrown in the teeth of the Cape 
Government when it argues the advantage of railway 
rates. Even to touch these questions is to show 
what a wide field of discussion the subject opens. 
As the matter stands at present it is believed that 
when existing sources of friction have been removed 
between the English Government and the Dutch 
Republic the Transvaal will be willing to enter the 
union. A provisional basis of rates has already 
been discussed and informally agreed to. The 
intentions of Natal are not known either at Bloem- 



74 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA v 

fontein or in Cape Town. It is presumable that if 
she is about to get responsible government the 
question will be left for a responsible Ministry to 
decide. 

I had hoped, in writing from this place, to be 
able to enter also into the question of Customs 
Union, which hangs so closely upon railway de- 
velopment and is just now a matter of the keenest 
interest to the Free State. My letter is already so 
long that I must confine myself to indicating in the 
briefest possible manner how in this matter, as well 
as in the matter of railways, the Free State has 
within the last two or three years begun to make 
its influence felt in the South African Councils. 

Having no port of its own, the Orange Free 
State has always been in the hands of its neighbours 
with regard to the Customs dues which they choose 
to levy upon goods passing through to its borders. 
In 1889 it entered, as I have mentioned, into a 
Customs Union with the Cape, and agreed to a com- 
mon tariff of 1 2-J- ad valorem, or 17 per cent upon 
rateable articles. Of this sum it receives three- 
fourths, and one-fourth is kept by the Cape for transit 
dues. The arrangement has been on the whole 
extremely advantageous to the Orange Free State 
and has added something like a hundred thousand 
a year to its revenue. But Natal approves as little 
of the Cape Customs dues as of Cape railway rates. 
Goods pass through its ports at an average of from 
5 to 7 per cent less than they pay at the Cape. 
The inhabitants of the north-eastern districts of the 
Free State, who are in the habit of drawing their 
supplies across the border from Natal, now find 
themselves obliged to pay the higher rate fixed by 



v LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 75 

the Customs Union. They naturally object, and as 
they have a strong representation in the Volksraad 
of the Free State they are able to make their objec- 
tions strongly felt. 

The Free State is thus to some extent divided 
between itself, and the Government, unwilling to 
resign the advantage which it has already gained 
from its participation in the union, is anxious to see 
Natal join the bond and equalise the rates on the 
basis, perhaps, of a slightly lower tariff all round. In 
order to obtain this concession it might be willing to 
concede something to Natal in the matter of railway 
extension. Natal, however, has lately replied to the 
overtures made by the Free State that she is not 
disposed to enter, or even to meet in conference to 
discuss, any Customs Union which does not include 
the Transvaal. As her principal trade is with the 
Transvaal this decision is not to be wondered at, and 
the Government of the Free State is now endeavour- 
ing to use its influence in Pretoria to overcome the 
objections of President Kruger. The two Republics 
have an agreement of their own which amounts to 
free trade in local produce, but their trade relations 
would be greatly simplified by the extension of the 
union. The Free State has, therefore, everything to 
gain by drawing the Transvaal into the South African 
bond. Hence the interest taken here in the settle- 
ment of the Swazi question and the resolution passed 
not long ago by the Raad to make a representation 
upon the subject to the Imperial Government. 



VI 

Maseru, Basutoland. 

Perhaps the prettiest part of the Free State is that 
which lies between Bloemfontein and the borders of 
Basutoland. No train at present crosses it, and in 
order to reach Maseru it is necessary in the first 
instance to drive to Ladybrand upon the Free State 
frontier. The distance is about 80 miles, and the 
post-cart, which leaves Bloemfontein at five in the 
morning, reaches Ladybrand at six in the evening. 
It is a canvas-tented vehicle on springs, drawn by 
eight horses, and is much lighter and, on the whole, 
more comfortable than the coaches of the Transvaal. 
The driver handles a whip like a salmon-rod with 
much dexterity, and keeps the eight horses in a per- 
petual hand gallop, of which the speed increases 
rather than slackens when a river has to be crossed, 
or any specially bad piece of road to be got over. 

The incidental effect upon the passengers is to 
cause them to make many involuntary excursions 
into the roof of the wagon, and the pleasure of the 
drive depends not a little upon the amount of activity 
with which you are prepared to play the part of 
shuttlecock to the battledore of the seat. It is not 
an exercise for the nervous, and the most nimble 
may lay their account with being moderately bruised 



vi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 77 

by the end of the day ; but, with due allowance for 
this drawback, the experience, as a whole, is not 
disagreeable. You are not all the time in river-beds 
nor on bad pieces of road, nor even on pebbly veldt, 
where loose gravel flies into your eyes, and if you 
have the fortunate chance that I had to be alone 
with the mail bags, and to have the canvas sides of 
the wagon looped up all round, so as to give an 
unobstructed view of the country as you pass through, 
you may spend some very enjoyable hours. 

We began our journey by starlight, but the sun 
rose over the veldt about two hours after we had 
left Bloemfontein, and by the time the light had 
fully spread we were already entering an undulating 
country where hill-tops began to wreathe the horizon. 
Within four hours of Bloemfontein the veldt took the 
aspect of a yellow land upon which a child's Noah's 
ark had been set out. Herds of cattle and horses 
and flocks of sheep, with here and there a quaint 
figure wrapped in a blanket watching them, were 
scattered thickly over the landscape. There were no 
trees, no hedges, no dividing lines of any kind except 
those made passingly by the shadows of the clouds. 
There were no villages in the European sense, but 
from time to time a slope was dotted with the round 
and melon-shaped huts of a native settlement. The 
herds were of great extent, and must have repre- 
sented a very considerable amount of wealth, but if 
the country had been swept of its cattle nothing of 
the value of half-a-crown would have been left. 

As we drove on we met with more evidence of 
cultivation. Farm lands and gardens began to take 
the place of the pasturage, and by two o'clock we 
were in a district where maize stalks were still stand- 



78 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vi 

ing and the upland edges waved with corn. It was 
a peculiarly lovely day, bright, cold, and breezy, 
with clouds drifting across a dazzling sky. The 
hill -tops, which caught every colour of the rainbow 
from pink and pearl to a blue that was almost black, 
seemed at last to girdle completely a spreading 
garden of gold and green. It was the grain district 
of the Orange Free State which was taken from the 
Basutos after their last war, and is still known with- 
out any scruple of delicacy by the name of the 
Conquered Territory. 

Every hour which brought us nearer to Basuto- 
land gave more picturesqueness to the landscape. 
Late in the afternoon the road began to wind sharply 
up and down hill, and sunset found us on a high 
ridge with a magnificent view of the Maluti range 
spread out before us. " There," said the driver, with 
a comprehensive sweep of the salmon rod, " there is 
Basutoland, and there, and there, and there. All 
the mountains are Basutoland." 

The horizon was filled from edge to edge with 
mountain -tops. Some of the higher peaks were 
already tipped with snow, and rose white and sharp 
from the ghostly grays of the eastern twilight ; 
towards the west others were glowing red and purple 
under the reflections of the sky. It is the Switzer- 
land of South Africa, a country of rocks and water- 
falls and fertile valleys, and it bears in extent the 
same proportion to the Switzerland of Europe that 
the Orange Free State bears to France. It has an 
area of 10,293 miles, of which the greater part is 
mountain. Some day when the farmers of Lady- 
brand get their grain line to Bloemfontein and the 
manner of approach is easier, it will probably become 



vi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 79 

the happy hunting ground of tourists in search of 
health and picturesque scenery. At present it is 
simply the home of one of the most promising of 
the native races of the continent. 

Its history is not altogether unworthy of the 
geographic parallel, for if Basutoland is our Switzer- 
land, the Basutos may fairly claim to be the Swiss 
of South Africa. They have defended their moun- 
tain fastnesses again and again with success against 
troops superior to them in armament and military 
knowledge, but they are not naturally warlike ; they 
are, on the contrary, a peaceful, hardy, and in- 
dustrious people. They number at present about 
218,000, and the resident Europeans, including 
teachers, missionaries, and Government officials, do 
not reach the total of 600. 

It will be remembered that after the last war, 
which resulted in the disannexation of Basutoland 
from the Cape Colony, a majority of the Basuto 
chiefs willingly accepted the direct rule of the 
Imperial Government, and in the month of March 
1884 Sir Marshall Clarke took up the position 
which he now holds of Resident Commissioner. In 
order to appreciate what he has done, it is necessary 
to recall briefly the situation with which he had to 
deal. 

He found the local chiefs fighting between them- 
selves. Those who had been in favour of the Cape 
colonial connection were hard pressed, and fearing to 
be driven for refuge into the Orange Free State. 
Others were rebelling against the authority of their 
own paramount chief Letsia ; others, again, against 
the district chiefs whom Letsia had appointed. A 
section of the people led by Masupha openly rejected 



So LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vi 

the authority of the Imperial Government, and 
declined to pay hut tax. Quarrels between herds- 
men led frequently to the " eating up " — that is, the 
wholesale destruction or sweeping away — of the 
cattle of an offending village. 

Stock thefts were common upon the borders of 
the Orange Free State, and gave rise to violations 
of the Free State territory. A chief whose territory 
had been annexed by the Orange Free State had 
taken refuge in Basutoland with the avowed inten- 
tion of exciting the sympathy of the native chiefs 
and stirring up difficulties upon the frontier. Fear 
had been aroused in the Free State that the Basuto 
natives would unite in an attempt to repossess them- 
selves by force of arms of the conquered territory, 
and commandoes were on foot. To add to the dis- 
quiet a rumour spread during the first months of the 
new administration that the troops which were being 
raised for Sir Charles Warren's expedition to Bechu- 
analand were really intended to be directed against 
Basutoland for the purpose of abolishing the power 
of the chiefs, and Maseru, the capital, and Mafeteng, 
another of the English stations, were in consequence 
watched by large armed detachments of natives. 

Side by side with all this incitement to violence 
the drink traffic was flourishing. Natives were every- 
where leaving their fields to flock to the numerous 
canteens, and the Resident Commissioner's first 
report reckons among the " great difficulties " of 
the situation the fact that "since the rebellion 
the majority of the chiefs have become habitual 
drunkards." It was a position which has repeated 
itself again and again in native communities. War 
had temporarily demoralised a whole people, and 



vi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 81 

Basutoland was on the verge of falling into a con- 
dition of anarchy and degradation which would have 
rendered it a source of danger and disturbance, not 
only to its immediate neighbours, but to South 
Africa. Surrounded as it is by native populations 
in Natal, Zululand, and the Transkei, it needed little 
more to become a leaven of disorder, of which the 
effect would have been injuriously felt from the 
Zambesi to the Cape. 

Sir Marshall Clarke's achievement has been to 
avert this peril without the employment of force, 
and to bring Basutoland in the course of eight years 
from the position in which he found it to the posi- 
tion which it at present holds as a centre of loyalty 
and order among native populations, and a source 
of supply of food and labour to the neighbouring 
States. The output of grain, cattle, and native pro- 
duce from Basutoland last year reached the value of 
£250,000, and passes were issued to between 50,000 
and 60,000 natives who went to work in the mines 
of Kimberley and Johannesburg. The drink traffic 
has been entirely stopped. For five years there has 
been no fighting between the chiefs. The practice 
of "eating up" cattle has been suppressed. Fair 
trial has been substituted for the arbitrary and bar- 
barous custom of " smelling out," or, in other words, 
of torturing for witchcraft. Border disputes with 
the Orange Free State have been arranged, the 
frontier has been defined by a commission appointed 
for the purpose, and a large portion of it has been 
fenced. Roads are being made throughout Basuto- 
land. Trading licences have increased in number. 
Industrial and other schools are spreading, and free 
dispensaries and cottage hospitals, which were at 

G 



82 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vi 

first regarded with distrust and dislike, have come 
into general use among the natives. 

In 1 89 1 Basutoland entered the Customs Union. 
This year it was connected by telegraph with the 
Orange Free State. In other words, peace has been 
substituted for war, and the customs of civilisation 
are daily gaining ground. From a source of danger 
the country has become a source of strength, and 
the most satisfactory feature of the whole situation 
is that the reforms which have been effected have 
been carried out always with the concurrence and in 
many cases through the agency of the chiefs. 

I do not want to seem passingly to say that 
Basutoland may never again become a source of 
trouble or disturbance. Opinions differ too much 
upon the subject of the apparent loyalty of the 
actual chiefs, and native politics are too much com- 
plicated by distant issues for any such prophecy to 
be made. I only want, as far as it is possible in the 
very short limits of a letter, to indicate what has 
been done and the manner in which it has been 
done. It is not often that a man sees his work 
produce fruit under his hand as Sir Marshall Clarke 
has done, and the seven very short annual reports in 
which he catalogues the principal events of his ad- 
ministration form, taken together, one of the most 
interesting and instructive of the minor chapters of 
English history. 

The system upon which he has worked rejects 
alike the theory that treats the native as a child 
irresponsible for his acts and dispossessed of personal 
rights and the theory which accepts him as a man 
and a brother equal in all things to his white neigh- 
bour. It deals with him as a man fully responsible 



vi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 83 

for his acts, behind the white man in civilisation, 
but subject to precisely the same laws of human 
development, and it is based upon the principle that 
to develop his self-respect and to make him a use- 
ful member of society are almost synonymous terms. 
It is the principle upon which the best educational 
institutions for natives within the colony have 
accomplished all their admirable work, and the 
mission schools in Basutoland have contributed not 
a little to the success of the political experiment. 

The most important of these are, curiously 
enough, not English. The French Protestant 
mission of the Paris Evangelical Society, which has 
for many years devoted its labours to the education 
of the Basuto people, has 1 3 principal stations and 
129 out-stations, with day schools scattered through 
the country. It has nearly 8000 children upon its 
ordinary school rolls, and has, besides these, about 
700 young men in training either as teachers or in 
industrial institutions where trades are taught. 

At the principal station at Morija, which lies 
within a four hours' drive of Maseru, and within half 
an hour of the mountain kraal of Lerothodi, the 
present paramount chief, there is a printing and 
bookbinding establishment, where, on the occasion 
of my visit, an edition of 3000 copies of a Sesuto 
reading -book was under preparation entirely by 
native printers and compositors. A fortnightly 
paper, of which the name, being translated, means 
The Little Light \ is also printed and published 
here in Sesuto. It is written principally by native 
contributors, and, far from experiencing any difficulty 
in keeping it alive, the editor has to complain of 
plethora of copy and want of space. It reaches, I 



8 4 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vi 

learned, the very respectable circulation of 800 
copies. The Government printing is also done by 
natives at Morija. 

At Quthing, another of the English stations, 
there is an industrial school, where stone-cutting, 
masons' work, and carpentering are taught. At 
Thaba Bosigo, the historic burying-place of the 
chiefs, there is a school for girls, where, in addition 
to elementary education, the pupils can learn needle- 
work, cookery, and the ordinary domestic arts. 
There are also excellent industrial schools for boys 
and girls supported by the French Roman Catholic 
mission at Roma, and there are some schools sup- 
ported by the English Church. The value of them 
all is that, whatever their system of teaching, they 
are centres of civilisation, and achieve perhaps as 
much by the unconscious influence as by deliberate 
effort. 

Every mission station that I visited had houses 
built of brick and well-planted gardens. Each had 
its church and schoolhouse, and it was noticeable 
that the huts which surrounded them were of 
distinctly higher grade than the huts of a purely 
native settlement At Morija many were square, 
and possessed of the luxury of windows and an 
upright door. Some had chimneys. Three or four 
that I entered had European furniture. One was 
quite pretty, with blue-washed walls, chintz curtains, 
and blue willow-patterned cups and dishes on a 
shelf. 

The step from an ordinary native hut to this is 
very great, and represents an advance in develop- 
ment of which the significance can hardly be 
exaggerated. It means nothing less than the con- 



vi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 85 

version of the native from the condition of loafing 
savage to the condition of a labourer. This, if it 
could become general, is the solution of the native 
problem, and it is difficult to realise anywhere but 
on the spot how much the missionaries contribute to 
make it general. It is only, perhaps, in driving 
about the mountains, visiting alternately chiefs and 
mission stations, that it is possible to appreciate the 
real and best work that they are doing. By induc- 
ing the common people to adopt civilised customs, 
they are giving them civilised wants and laying the 
foundation of all civilised endeavour. 

The great obstacle to the material development 
of South Africa is everywhere declared to be the 
scarcity of labour. With labour enough I was re- 
peatedly told in the Transvaal we could do anything. 
The question of questions is how to obtain it. Here 
in the remote valleys of Basutoland, cultivated as 
they are from edge to edge, an answer seems dimly 
possible. Here a native population is at work. 
Before long the difficulty will be that no more land 
will remain to be taken up. Still the population is 
increasing, and every year sends out larger numbers 
to earn money beyond the borders. Basutoland 
under orderly administration is becoming a labour 
reserve. Why should not this be the case with all 
native territories ? They are looked upon at present 
as the cloud upon the South African horizon. If 
they could by any means be converted into com- 
munities of labourers, they would become, on the con- 
trary, the natural pendant in South African prosperity 
of the immense wealth which is waiting to be de- 
veloped. 

There are, of course, great difficulties in the way. 



86 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vi 

A question which has perplexed successive genera- 
tions and given rise to so many bitter struggles is 
not likely to settle itself hurriedly now merely 
because its settlement becomes every day more 
urgent. Yet there are certain conclusions that may, 
I think, be fairly drawn from conditions which exist 
now and have never existed in South Africa before. 
The first of these is that the native question and the 
labour question are rapidly merging themselves in 
one, and are consequently engaging the attention of 
two very different classes of minds. Men who have 
never worked together before are likely to be found 
in the future in cordial co-operation and to lend to 
each other's schemes all the weight of combined 
conviction. In coming from the Transvaal to Basuto- 
land this impression is most striking. 

For all practical purposes there are but two 
questions which are of any real importance in the 
South Africa of to-day. One is the material de- 
velopment ; the other is the race question. Every- 
thing which appears on the political field falls under 
one heading or the other, and it may be taken as a 
fair test of the value of any given measure how 
much it helps the one without hindering the other. 

Generally speaking, the problems of material de- 
velopment enlist in their solution a different class of 
energy from that which lends itself willingly to the 
more abstract questions of race. In the Transvaal 
the first, in Basutoland the second may be seen in 
its typical expression, and both are at this moment 
working towards exactly the same result. The men 
who are most eagerly occupied in making their own 
fortunes in Johannesburg are strongly of opinion 
that, somehow or other, the native must be made to 



vi LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 87 

work. If wages are the means by which he can be 
tempted, they are willing to pay him well. They 
do not care in the least about him ; they care only 
for the profit which they foresee for themselves from 
the result, and within the limits which leave a divi- 
dend he is welcome to what he wants. Their only 
source of annoyance is that they cannot get as many 
workmen as they want, and, if it would advance 
matters, they would probably be ready to pay a 
premium to every missionary, official, or philan- 
thropist who turned a labourer into the market. 

In Basutoland, for absolutely different reasons, 
the object of all endeavour is the same. Here it is 
felt that the true place of the native in the South 
African community for generations to come will be 
the place of a labourer. There is no finality in 
politics, and there is no desire to limit his future 
possibilities, but it is evident, in the opinion of his 
best friends, that in his uneducated condition he has 
not reached the average level of the labourer. He 
must take the first step before he can be prepared 
for those that follow, and industry must for a long 
time to come be his religion. Here education is 
doing what compulsory labour Bills have not yet 
been found competent to effect, and a generation of 
natives is growing up with requirements which can 
only be satisfied by working. 

As a labourer the native takes at once a new 
place in the social scale. He is an element in the 
development of the country. He becomes valuable 
and will be valued accordingly. Seeing then that 
he has himself everything to gain by filling the place 
which the conditions of the country open to him, 
that the need for his services will only increase as 



88 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vi 

the material development of the north goes on, and 
that the labour question is the next great question 
which is likely to engage the attention of South 
African politicians of all schools, it does not seem 
too much to hope that what is happening in the 
Transvaal and Basutoland may be a type and fore- 
runner of what will take place throughout South 
Africa, 



VII 



King William's Town. 

By whatever route you determine to descend from 
the High Veldt of the interior to the southern coast, 
you no sooner leave the crest of the high ground 
behind you than you become aware of the softening 
influence of the airs from the Indian Ocean. I 
came down from De Aar Junction, which is the 
meeting-point of the Eastern, Western, and Midland 
railway system of the colony, to Port Elizabeth, and 
from Port Elizabeth by sea to East London. The 
descent is made in five great steps, through wild, 
but no longer treeless, scenery. Mountain passes, 
covered with euphorbias, flowering aloes, and aro- 
matic herbage, alternate in succession with plateaux 
that widen out to farm and pasture lands. In 
places the rocky sides are aflame with scarlet 
blossom, then there come long stretches of grass as 
green as the meadows of Essex, and the low scrub 
and bush of ostrich farms. There is no fine timber, 
but all the edges of the hills are wooded, the hollows 
are full of flowers. Throughout the day the northern 
horizon is boldly outlined by the hills we have 
descended, and to the south ever widening valleys 
open towards blue distances that represent the sea. 
We left De Aar at two in the morning with a 



9 o LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

sharp frost that made us glad to cower round the 
fire in the waiting-room and warm our hands and 
feet before the train started. By sunset we are on 
a warm level where ostrich farms have become 
frequent, and the long-legged birds, disturbed by the 
whistle of the train, race the engine and outstrip 
our speed with apparently little effort. In the dark 
we cross the Addo veldt, where elephants still roam 
in a wild state. Port Elizabeth is represented only 
by a semicircle of harbour lights round an uncom- 
fortably rough sea, and it is afternoon again before 
a tug is steaming with us up the Buffalo River to 
East London. Three more hours of climbing in 
the train take us up to the 1700 feet level upon 
which King William's Town stands. 

These long and rapid journeys serve to bring the 
continent and its varying capacities and conditions 
together with a curiously kaleidoscopic effect. When 
you begin to count the miles you have traversed by 
thousands, you feel that you have at least seen 
something of the physical surface and shape of a 
country in which a mere handful of Europeans are 
laying the foundations of future history, and just as 
in the turning of a kaleidoscope there are certain 
blue and red spots which always attract the eye 
and form the centre of each new combination, so in 
this great extent of physical surface which you are 
every day looking at from some new point of view 
there are certain constant elements which form the 
centre of every conceivable combination of its his- 
torical development. The blue and red spots of the 
South African kaleidoscope, which may change in 
their relation to each other and in the effect which 
they produce upon the whole, but which must 



vii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 91 

remain permanently as the component parts of its 
design, are the immense wealth and size of the 
country and the various forms of humanity which 
have met within its borders. The question of 
material development and the question of race are 
the two interests round which everything else 
revolves. 

In the Transvaal, at Kimberley, in the Northern 
territory of the Chartered Company, in Bechuana- 
land, in Natal, ever since the advent of the railway 
in the Free State, material is the subject of daily 
talk and daily effort. The opening of means of 
communication, the development of mines, the settle- 
ment of land are matters of vital and of always 
increasing importance. They form the aim of all 
practical political politics. But this constructive 
work is being carried on over an area of millions of 
square miles by the initiative of little more than half 
a million of persons. 

The entire white population of South Africa, 
including the Dutch Republics, amounts to only 
620,000. The task that they have undertaken is 
nothing less than Titanic, and it is evident that 
whatever may be the mental energy, however inex- 
haustible the stock of initiative that may have 
prompted its conception, actual motive power is still 
deficient. South Africa cannot be ploughed from 
the Zambesi to the Cape, nor its cities built, nor its 
rivers bridged by half a million of hands. Manual 
labour, and manual labour in large quantities, is 
absolutely essential to success. Labour is, therefore, 
rapidly becoming the supreme demand of the white 
population. 

But the white population is not the only popu- 



92 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

lation of South Africa. Side by side with this 
amount of material development, which seems to 
determine the future of the white race, there is also 
the question of the future of the black race. A 
complete census of natives cannot, of course, be 
taken. But their numbers are to be certainly 
counted by millions. Within the Cape Colony 
and Natal alone they reach nearly 2,000,000. 
Throughout the still independent or partially pro- 
tected native territories they swarm uncounted, and 
there are many districts in which the future of these 
wild races and their relation to the South Africa of 
coming history is the all-absorbing topic of thought. 
Basutoland is one of those districts. King William's 
Town, situated as it is in the very heart of a native 
population, upon the borders of the Transkei, where 
nearly half a million of natives still live under the 
rule of their tribal chiefs, and within a day's journey 
of barbaric Pondoland, where the ruling chief, 
Sigcan, roasted his stepmother the other day, and 
habitually fastens offenders against his sovereign 
pleasure into ant-heaps to be eaten alive, is another. 
Here the hum and bustle of material develop- 
ment sounds faintly from the far distant levels 01 
the High Veldt, and the native question is all im- 
portant. And as in the Transvaal, as in Basuto- 
land, so here the outcome of all serious thought 
upon the subject appears to be the conclusion that 
the two great problems of South Africa ought to 
solve each other, that the difficulty which hampers 
the question of material development and the diffi- 
culty which stands in the way of the satisfactory 
progress of the native races are in truth one and the 
same, that both would be removed and the successful 



vii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 93 

future of South Africa assured if any system or 
process could be devised by which the average raw 
native could be converted into an effective labourer. 

Already, as I have said, in Basutoland the desire 
to convert the native into a labourer is uniting the 
endeavours of the missionaries and the officers 
charged with the duties of administration. The 
chiefs have been induced to appreciate the solid 
advantages which result both to themselves and to 
their people, and the effect has been eminently satis- 
factory. Not only is the whole Basuto nation at 
work within its own frontiers, but as the land is 
more and more taken up it sends increasing numbers 
of labourers out to the mining centres in which 
labour is in demand. Fifty or sixty thousand, 
which is the number of passes granted every year to 
natives going across the frontier to work, is not a 
bad percentage upon a population of 2 1 7,000. 

When the position of which Basutoland offers at 
present only a small practical illustration can be 
repeated in some of its essential particulars through- 
out South Africa, and philanthropists, practical poli- 
ticians, and native leaders unite heartily in the 
endeavour to induce the native masses to become 
labouring masses, it can be scarcely doubtful that 
some sort of similar success will be achieved. There 
are signs that this condition of things is by the force 
of circumstances likely to be brought about. The 
hard-and-fast line which used to exist between the 
missionary and the politician, the negrophobist, and 
the practical business man, is disappearing. It is 
becoming apparent that the same object may legiti- 
mately enlist all their efforts. 

The composition of the present Government of 



94 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

the Cape, including, as it does, men of the negro- 
phobist traditions of Mr. Rose Innes and Mr. Sauer 
and a number of the Africander Bond, with such 
moving spirits of material development as Mr. 
Rhodes and Mr. Sivewright, is something more than 
an accident. It is almost an inevitable outcome of 
the convergence of public thought. It is certainly 
typical of the various sides from which the next 
great question with which the country will be called 
upon to deal may be approached. There is little 
doubt that this question is the labour question. The 
passing of the franchise measure has prepared the 
way for it ; the still more difficult question of liquor 
remains to be dealt with. Behind them both lies 
the object which some people think cannot be 
touched by legislation — namely, the distribution of 
native labour through those parts of the colony or 
the continent in which it is most required. 

At present about four-fifths of the native popula- 
tion of the colony are collected in the eastern 
district and the native territories which neighbour 
upon it. The Fingoes number about a quarter of a 
million. The Transkei and the territories of Griqua- 
land East, Tembuland, etc., contain about another 
half-million. Basutoland has not far from a quarter 
of a million. The district of King William's Town 
alone contains more than 70,000 natives. Deduct 
all these from the million and a quarter which the 
census gave to the whole colony, and it will be seen 
in how large a proportion they cluster round this 
neighbourhood. It is not that in this part of the 
colony there is most work for them to do. Quite 
the contrary. The industrial and agricultural centres 
are at Kimberley and in the Western district. But 



vii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 95 

here are their locations and reserves. There, if 
they wish to live, they must work. Here, the 
incentive to work has been taken from them. 
Food and shelter in perpetuity have been assured 
to them. 

In the territories which have been annexed since 
1875 there is a total area of something like 14,000 
square miles, which in its moral effect upon the native 
population may be compared to a gigantic pauper 
asylum. Within the limits of a location or reserve 
no native who has a wife need work, nor need he 
fear to starve. The principle of the location is that 
the land is owned by the community and is inalien- 
able. It is cultivated by the women, and the man 
who owns women has consequently a provision of 
land and labour of which he cannot be deprived. 
It is entirely unaffected by his own conduct, and the 
principle of individual responsibility, upon which the 
framework of civilised society rests, is non-existent. 
The ordinary equipment of the raw Kaffir is a 
blanket, which he brings to a very picturesque tint 
of terra-cotta by braying it with powdered red ochre. 
He may add a few blue and white beads by way of 
decoration, but he needs no further wearing apparel 
nor sleeping accommodation. Wrapped in his 
blanket, he is to be seen sitting in the sun in all the 
locations of the Eastern district. His wives sow 
and reap and grind and cook the maize upon which 
he lives. He has not learned to care for luxuries, 
his necessaries are all provided. Why, in the name 
of common sense, he may well ask, should he work ? 
We have heard a great deal at home about the 
pauperisation of the working classes. Curiously, it 
does not yet seem to have been realised by the 



96 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

friends of the native on what a vast scale it has been 
practised here. 

The well-intentioned philanthropy which has 
assured to every individual native an inalienable 
share in the property of his tribe has, it is true, 
saved South Africa from the existence of a class 
whose material wants are unprovided for, but it has 
done so at the cost of the permanent degradation of 
the native race. All impulse to personal effort has 
been removed. The situation which has been 
created is entirely artificial, for, in a savage state, the 
man was obliged to defend by force the possessions 
in which the stronger powers of civilisation now 
maintain him. While his women worked he fought, 
and, if the conditions of his existence were not ideal, 
they called at least for natural exertion. In his 
actual condition he is an excrescence upon creation, 
useful to no one, and least of all to himself. His 
friends still endeavour to repair with one hand what 
has been destroyed with the other. Having deprived 
him of the initial incentive which is embodied in our 
own harsh, wholesome doctrine that the man who 
does not work shall not eat, they hope to coax him 
into the way he should go by inspiring him with 
more complicated needs. 

The difficulty, it is often said, is that the native 
has no wants. If we could give him wants he 
would work to satisfy them. This is the object of 
the most enlightened missionary efforts, and to 
some extent it has been successfully attained. A 
class of native who is distinguished from his less 
enlightened brethren by the title of School Kaffir 
has been brought into existence. The School Kaffir 
can read and write, can wear European dress, and 



vii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 97 

acquires a taste for European habits which leads 
him in many instances to work. Domestic servants 
and labourers come largely from this class, and it 
forms an element which, in spite of many faults 
and the general disrepute which is sure to attend an 
artificially educated section of any people, is not to 
be despised. But at present the School Kaffir is a 
creature apart, and it happens often enough that the 
distance which has been placed by education between 
him and his fellows is too great to be maintained, 
and by a not unnatural reaction he falls back 
entirely to the level from which he started. Some 
people attribute this to a misdirection of educating 
effort, and are of opinion that the endeavour to 
make a skilled native artisan is as much out of 
place as the endeavour to make learned native 
professors. 

There is no general demand in the colony nor 
among the natives themselves for artisans. All that 
is wanted and that will be wanted for a long time 
to come is labourers, grooms, gardeners, ploughmen, 
miners, porters, men willing to use their muscles 
and submit to the discipline of daily exertion. Any- 
thing finer than this, it is urged, will not be wanted 
and will not be paid for. Consequently, it will fall 
under the practically inoperative head of the dis- 
used accomplishment. An instance in point falls 
under my eyes here, in the person of a native who 
holds a position in the service of the Woods and 
Forests. He was educated at Lowedale, and is, I 
am told, an accomplished cabinetmaker. He has a 
hut and a bit of ground out in the bush. He wears 
a blanket, has two or three wives, and to the best 
belief of his superior officer never does a day's work 

H 



98 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

from year's end to year's end. Nobody in his 
world wanted cabinets, he did not care for them 
himself, and he prefers to draw pay for the labour 
of his wives. I mention the case because it has a 
typical value. 

If it were possible by education to instil a taste 
for luxuries into a people already possessed of the 
necessaries of life, the work of refining and develop- 
ing the race would only be a question of time. But, 
when we take into account the frequent lapses of 
this kind which occur, it seems to be a matter of 
grave doubt whether the best meant efforts can do 
more than touch the fringe of the whole matter, as 
long as the first inward spur to action which rests 
upon the hard groundwork of necessity is absent. 
This view is further supported by the fact that, 
when for any reason crops fail and supplies in the 
locations become scanty, labour becomes at once 
plentiful in the surrounding neighbourhood. It is 
only employers who live in a district surrounded on 
all sides by locations that are able to note the 
immediate fluctuations of the labour barometer. 

In times of plenty in the locations a cook may 
not be scolded, a groom may not be kept out at 
night, a gardener may not be asked to cut an extra 
supply of vegetables, without fear of finding that the 
domestic in question prefers a return to the location 
to further service. In times of scarcity good manners 
and attentive performance of duties may be expected. 
But, though the effect of the condition of the loca- 
tion upon the supply of labour is more immediately 
noticed here, it none the less makes itself felt 
throughout South Africa, and it is now coming to 
be generally admitted that the existence of the 



vii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 99 

location is the primary cause of the deficiency in the 
supply of native labour. 

There are, however, some other recognised causes 
which it is well not to lose sight of. Among these 
is the not altogether surprising fact that, while many 
would-be employers complain of being unable to 
obtain labour, their real trouble is not that they can- 
not get labour but that they cannot get it at their 
own price. 

Farmers want a compulsory labour law in order 
that they may be sure of a cheap as well as of a 
plentiful labour supply. The wages which they 
offer in this neighbourhood vary from 5 s. to 15 s. a 
month with food, and this is not enough. Natives will 
not leave the location to take it. It is vain to say 
that the amount of wages makes no difference, that 
the native is inherently lazy and that nothing but 
force will compel him to work. Force is a very 
different thing from natural necessity, and the 
difference between the operation of the one and the 
other is all the difference between a race of workmen 
and a race of slaves. Failing necessity, superior in- 
ducement is the only resource, and that this will act 
even under present conditions is demonstrated by 
the evidence of Kimberley, Johannesburg, and 
Basutoland. In all these places the native has 
shown not only that he can work, but that he will 
work, if for any reason it becomes worth his while. 
Up to this point there is not one of us who is not 
essentially lazy. 

The native only follows a human law, and it can- 
not be too soon or too clearly recognised that any 
hopes of obtaining labour from him at a price lower 
than that which he chooses to set upon it are hopes 



ioo LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

which mean nothing less than slavery in disguise, and 
are foredoomed to disappointment. To endeavour 
to compel him to work by means of an increased 
taxation is also a mere tinkering at the question, 
which is not likely to produce much impression. 
Fair wages, which, as long as he works only for 
luxuries, will necessarily be high wages — and, it is 
regrettable to be obliged to add, faithful observance 
of the terms of agreement — combined, perhaps, with 
some modification of the existing Masters and Ser- 
vants Act, appear to represent the best that can be 
done while the present system of locations and tribal 
tenure of land remains in force. 

The experience of Kimberley, Johannesburg, 
Basutoland, Khama's country, and Natal — in fact all 
experience of any value — would add to these a pre- 
ventive liquor law. But when all this has been done 
the fundamental question will still remain to be 
faced. Is it necessary, or wise, or right to continue 
a system of land tenure which puts natives outside 
the operation of the natural impulse to work for a 
living, and deprives them at the same time of the 
dignified sense of individual responsibility? The 
difficulties in the way of abolishing such a system 
are, of course, many and great. How they could 
best be met must be a question for experts. The 
fairer principle would seem to be to proceed by some 
gradual system of survey and allotment into indi- 
vidual freehold. 

The idea that the native cannot understand the 
system of freehold is exploded by the experience of 
Natal, where natives are becoming in increasing 
quantities freeholders of land purchased from the 
Crown. In Natal it is held that the practice of 



vii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 101 

monogamy follows the plough — that is to say, that a 
more enlightened system of agriculture has a tend- 
ency to do away with the plurality of wives, who, 
under the old system, represent little more than farm 
labourers. However this may be, there is no doubt 
that the issue of individual title in the locations, if 
such a thing were by any means feasible, would 
greatly facilitate the advance of civilisation and the 
abolition of old and savage customs, among which 
polygamy ranks, perhaps, as one of the least harm- 
ful. Unquestionably one result of the issue of in- 
dividual title would be that many natives would part 
with their land. This would be far from an unmixed 
evil. In the first place, those who did so would be 
henceforth dependent upon their own exertions, and 
consequently of necessity labourers. In the second 
place, the mass of the native locations would be by 
degrees broken up, and the million or so of natives 
who now congregate in this part of South Africa 
would be little by little distributed throughout the 
colonies and States, and thus become more easily 
absorbed in the natural channels of labour and 
civilisation. 

The probable tendency of such a distribution 
would be towards the centres of material develop- 
ment where they are needed. Thus, while com- 
petition lessened the price of labour, a larger number 
of labourers would be employed, and the material 
basis of South African prosperity might be laid by 
native hands, for the mutual benefit and advance- 
ment of black and white races alike. Liquor and 
land, it has been truly said, constitute the two great 
elements of the native question. Add labour to 
these, and it must be admitted that the result is a 



io2 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vn 

trinity of the most difficult subjects with which 
modern legislation is called upon to deal. When 
they have been dealt with here, the South African 
race question will have disappeared, and it is not the 
least interesting part of the in many respects unique 
problem which it presents, that it should thus involve 
a settlement under its own conditions of the same 
questions which are perplexing all the world. 



VIII 

PlETERMARITZBURG, NATAL. 

The coast journey from East London to Natal is 
generally rough enough for bad sailors to be glad to 
salve their pride with the, I imagine, seldom varying 
assurance that the trip is one of the very worst 
which falls within the long experience of the captain ; 
but it has the advantage of being all the time within 
sight of land, so that while the hours of daylight 
last there is at least the diversion of studying the 
shore. 

Pondoland, with its hills and woods and waterfalls, 
takes up the greater part of a day. There is 
scarcely a harbour along the inhospitable line into, 
which even a small boat can enter. The rivers flow 
from the mountains of the interior across ground 
which is still high when it reaches the sea, and they 
fall over the cliffs edge in waterfalls that in the 
rainy season become magnificent. Only a few have 
already cut their channels down into gorges through 
the rock. Among these is the St. John's, which is 
navigable for vessels of small draught at the mouth, 
and of which the gates, as they are called, form the 
picturesque show spot of the coast. They are simply 
the two sides of a table-mountain, over the edge of 
which the river may once have fallen, as the smaller 



104 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

rivers still fall on either hand. It is now cleft from 
the summit to the base, and the river flows out 
naturally through a wooded valley to the sea-level. 
It is a little port of civilisation which was annexed 
by the Cape Government, it may be remembered, 
about eight years ago. But for it and the eight-mile 
strip on either bank of the river which belongs to it, 
the barbarism of Pondoland is unbroken. Over the 
three or four thousand square miles of territory of 
which it is composed, the rule of the savage is still 
supreme. 

The stories of cruelty perpetrated by command of 
the chiefs, which are from time to time carried over 
the border, are sickening in their atrocity, and you 
wonder, as your glass sweeps the shore, what scenes 
of horror its beauty hides. Lying, as Pondoland 
does, like a wedge of savagery between the civilised 
borders of the Cape Colony and Natal, its annexation 
can be merely a question of time ; and as Natal has 
already a sufficiently extensive native area to occupy 
her energies in Zululand, it is more than probable 
that the Cape Colony will before long deal with the 
question. The sooner it does so the better, will be 
the general opinion. 

If it incorporates Pondoland absolutely with its 
own territory, its frontier will then be conterminous 
with the frontier of Natal ; and the reasons which 
are strong already for the friendly co-operation of 
the two English colonies in the settlement of South 
African questions will be by so much the stronger. 
That they ought to co-operate is one of the self- 
evident facts which the more liberal-minded public 
men of both colonies do not dispute. At the same 
time, it is unfortunately no less evident that on 



viii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 105 

every question of South African interest with which 
both are concerned they stand at present opposed. 
It is difficult for the smaller colony to pardon the 
exercise of strength and energy by which the Cape 
has, as it were, stretched its limbs across the peninsula, 
and laid hands upon the Transvaal trade. 

Natal is before all things a trading community, 
and the trade of the Transvaal and a portion of 
the Free State seemed only a few years ago to be 
hers of right for ever. Now it is flowing from her 
down the easy channel of the Cape and Free 
State Railway, and when she is invited to enter 
into a railway union it is not unnatural that she 
should feel a little sore at being asked to divide 
profits which she had speculated upon as all her 
own. The bitter part of the position is that, how- 
ever pluckily she may compete, she has no choice. 
The most logical exposition of her natural rights 
goes down before the still harder logic of facts. 
The Cape Railway is in Johannesburg, or will be 
before many weeks have passed, whereas the Natal 
extension is still stationary on the Transvaal border, 
waiting for permission to come on. Every week 
that passes makes the position worse, for the habit 
of trading through Port Elizabeth gains ground. 
The authorities of Natal agree with the authorities 
of the Cape on the general theory that to come to 
an understanding with each other and fix a tariff 
which will enable both railway systems to run 
at a profit is better than to continue a cut -throat 
competition which must injure both, even though 
it should stop short of ruining one. The difficulty 
in the present sore state of feeling is to fix upon 
a practical basis for the tariff. The mileage of the 



106 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

Natal lines to Johannesburg and Pretoria, supposing 
them finished, would be so much less than the mile- 
age of the Cape lines that, if the charge for the 
carriage of goods were fixed on a basis of so much 
per mile, Natal would have an immense advantage 
over the Cape. She claims for herself that she 
has a right to this advantage, which comes from her 
geographical position. 

The Cape, on the other hand, contends that 
what is gained geographically is lost topographi- 
cally, and that the expense of construction and 
working upon a line of which the ruling gradient 
is i in 30 is so great that, if the two railway 
systems were run on strictly commercial principles, 
it would be found that the Cape line could afford 
to carry goods at a- lower rate from point to point 
than the Natal line could do. The desire of the 
Cape is, therefore, for a tariff fixed on a point-to- 
point basis. But if the point-to-point charge were 
equal, Natal trade would be altogether ruined, for 
the greater nearness of the Cape ports to Europe 
and America would give an advantage to the Cape 
against which there would be no competition. 

Natal cannot evidently accept an arrangement 
which means ruin to herself. The union tariff, if 
there is one, must be fixed on a compromise 
between these two extremes. Natal must have 
some allowance made for her natural advantage 
in having about 200 miles less of road to run ; 
the Cape must have some allowance for the geo- 
graphical position of her ports and the topographical 
advantages of her railway road. What this allow- 
ance should be on either side must be a matter of 
discussion. It has been suggested to pool the 



viii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 107 

railways and divide the profits. This might be 
satisfactory from the point of view of the Govern- 
ments concerned, but it would not satisfy the local 
demands of the various ports, nor simplify the dis- 
cussion of interests to any appreciable extent. 

The difficulty in approaching the discussion 
would be less if the two colonies were in other 
respects in an equal position ; but here again the 
facts are merciless. The Cape is the premier State 
of South Africa. It is larger, stronger, richer, and 
more populous than Natal. Its resources are more 
varied, and it gains every day the increased impetus 
in development which comes of successful progress. 
It is useless to endeavour to escape from the 
inevitable, and the wise policy for the smaller 
colony would seem to be to acknowledge in a 
loyal and friendly spirit the supremacy which cannot 
be denied. But Natal is unable to accept this 
position. 

The feeling here is that the Cape misuses its 
strength for the purpose of crushing and oppressing 
its weaker neighbours, and that the only hope of 
obtaining a fair bargain is to be in a position to 
extort it. There is, consequently, a much greater 
inclination towards alliance with the Republics 
against the dominant power than there is towards 
alliance with the other English colony, and, with the 
hope before it of obtaining advantageous concessions 
from the Transvaal, Natal is not disposed at present 
to discuss the question of Railway Union on amicable 
terms. There is a confident belief that the survey 
which has been voted by the Volksraad for the 
extention of the Natal line from Charlestown will 
very shortly be followed by the construction of the 



108 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

line, and it is held that when this is done Natal will 
be able to treat on a more equal footing as regards 
railway matters with the Cape. 

It is needless to say that the Transvaal draws its 
own advantage from the situation and is not anxious 
to contribute in any way to the soothing of colonial 
susceptibilities. The position with regard to Customs 
Union has much the same admixture of fact and 
feeling. The Cape and Free State have entered 
into a Customs Union, which is without doubt very 
advantageous to the Free State. The Free State, 
having no port of its own, was dependent, before it 
entered into the Customs Union, upon the tariff of 
its neighbours. If the Cape imposed a duty of 
1 2 per cent, goods which came through Cape 
ports paid 1 2 per cent. If the duty of Natal was 
5 per cent, goods which came through the ports of 
Natal paid 5 per cent. In neither case did the 
Government of the Free State receive anything, and 
it was natural that the importer who had to pay the 
dues preferred goods which came by way of Natal. 
Natal had fair reason to look upon the Free State 
trade as an increasing quantity in her future. But 
here again the Cape stepped in and narrowed the 
field. By the agreement of the Customs Union the 
Free State accepts the duties of the Cape, imposes 
them upon all its borders, and receives in return a 
three-quarters share from the Cape Customs of all 
the duties levied on Free State goods. This amounts, 
in round numbers, to about ^100,000 a year. 
Natal goods going up pay first their own duty at 
the port, then the Customs Union duty on the 
frontier. Instead of benefit, they suffer considerable 
disadvantage, and, as with the Transvaal, so with 



vni LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 109 

the Free State, force of circumstances is driving 
Natal trade to the Cape. 

Again the Cape offers an agreement. Enter, it 
says, into our Customs Union, and again Natal 
refuses to act under compulsion. The average 
Customs dues collected within the Union, taking 
rateable and ad valorem articles together, is found 
to be about 17 per cent. The same average taken 
for Natal gives 8 per cent. To enter the Customs 
Union at present would mean for Natal something 
slightly more than doubling its present duties. In 
addition to this, Natal politicians object to the 
principle of, as they express it, taxing bread and 
letting brandy go free. If they consented to enter 
a Customs Union at all, it would be on condition 
that the average duty was lowered, and that neces- 
saries of life should be, as far as ■ possible, untaxed. 
At present, moreover, the condition of inter-colonial 
free trade, which accompanies Customs Union, is of 
comparatively little value to Natal, for the freedom 
is to obtain only over conterminous land frontiers 
and will not apply to colonial goods carried by sea. 

The principal product which Natal has to offer 
to South Africa is sugar. If it enters a Cape port 
by sea it can do so only on the same terms as the 
sugar of Mauritius. To send it overland is too 
expensive. Tea, again, if it goes by sea, competes 
with Ceylon and must have no better terms. Briefly, 
as matters stand, Natal would, in its own opinion, 
suffer the disadvantages of Customs Union, and gain 
no corresponding benefit. It is not yet strong 
enough, it thinks, to enter the Union with the pro- 
spect of exerting sufficient influence to modify the 
conditions to which it objects, and it prefers to 



no LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

strengthen its hand in its own way by co-operation 
with the Transvaal. It has lost its advantage in 
the Free State trade because the Free State has 
entered the Union, but the Transvaal has not entered 
the Union, and until it does Natal hopes to keep a 
certain advantage in the Transvaal. The advantage 
is not very great, for the Cape gives a rebate to 
Transvaal goods in bond, which brings their duty 
down to the Natal rate. The difference applies 
chiefly to the sorted-up trade. This in the nature 
of things cannot benefit by rebate, and a great deal 
is at present done with Natal, bringing perhaps 
other trade in its train. 

The danger of the situation is apparent. Natal 
stands in isolation from the Cape and Free State 
and trusts to the friendship of the Northern Republic. 
But President Kruger is bound to consider his own 
interests, and the day which sees some exciting 
causes of friction removed between him and the 
larger colony is not unlikely to see him also frankly 
espouse the views of the Cape in relation to South 
African politics. He may find himself constrained 
to abandon his present attitude of coquetting with 
Natal. He may refuse to encourage the extension 
of the railway from Charlestown. He may, as he is 
pledged to do in the event of the Transvaal's obtain- 
ing Swaziland and a port, bring the Republic into 
the Customs Union, in which case Natal would stand 
entirely alone. Or, as his own new tariff suggests, he 
may put so fierce a protective barrier round his 
borders as to drive all external trade to the same 
distance. In any of these events the position of 
Natal becomes extremely precarious. It is impossible 
that she should ignore the peril, and it is with a view 



viii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA in 

to steadying her foothold and carrying her safely 
through any crisis which may be before her, that the 
more active spirits among her public men are desirous 
of obtaining for her all the liberties and the power 
of responsible government. They think she has been 
hampered in her dealings with the neighbouring 
States by the inequality of her position. The neigh- 
bouring States are self-governing ; she is not. They 
are responsible for their actions ; she is in tutelage 
still. In difficult circumstances it may happen that 
Natal, small as she is, is under the government of a 
minority, and the other South African Governments, 
knowing that her public men are unable to enforce 
the expression of their views, treat them with a 
disdain which is humiliating. 

These circumstances have, it is thought, paralysed 
her action and weakened her decisions at critical 
moments, and the men who have developed her trade 
and built her railways and created her towns claim 
for themselves that they are as well able to take the 
management of political as of municipal affairs. 
They contend that they know their own interests, 
and can conduct their own negotiations concerning 
them better than any paternal Government. More 
than this, they claim that if mistakes are made they 
will suffer more willingly for mistakes of which they 
have the full responsibility than they can suffer for 
the mistakes of other people. In other words, they 
feel themselves to be fully grown, and the state of 
prolonged childhood is increasingly irksome. The 
colony refuses to deal with each individual point 
now under discussion until it holds a stronger posi- 
tion with regard to each. The desire for responsible 
government springs from a belief that in obtaining it 



ii2 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

the whole colonial position will be strengthened from 
root to branch. 

Against this view there are many and not trifling 
objections. In the first place, there is, of course, the 
native question. The natives of Natal are numerically 
as ten to one of the white population. To ask for 
entire control of this immense mass is to ask for 
something which affects the well-being not only of 
Natal, but of all South Africa. It is not, therefore, 
to be wondered at that the Imperial Government 
should have thought it desirable to reserve the con- 
trol of native affairs in its own hands. That it has 
done so has nevertheless weakened the chance of 
responsible government being carried at the elections 
by that substantial majority which is required. There 
are many advocates of the change, especially among 
the up-country Dutch voters, who are not inclined to 
consider that half a loaf is better than no bread, and 
who will reject it if hampered by this condition. 
They hardly give weight enough to the fact that if, 
as would undoubtedly be the case, the Imperial 
Government would have to bear the brunt of any 
trouble arising out of native mismanagement it is 
but just that it should keep a preponderating voice 
in the management ; and, without considering that 
they have not so far had much to complain of in the 
Imperial administration of that section of their affairs, 
they join their voices to those of other opponents of 
the change, who, looking at the matter from an 
exactly opposite point of view, fear the withdrawal 
of the Imperial troops. 

There can be no question that a colony which 
desires the comparative independence of responsible 
government must be prepared to provide for the 



viii LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 113 

maintenance of order within its own borders. If it 
cannot do this, the responsibility which it proposes 
to assume is simply the right to act as it pleases at 
some one else's expense. Without touching the 
question of external defence, there are men who 
think that the peace and order which at present 
distinguish the native population would not be 
maintained without the symbol of authority which is 
embodied in the red coat and the musket. They do 
not anticipate that the musket will be ever used, but 
they think that its presence is required. Men who 
hold this view will not accept a scheme of responsible 
government which makes no definite provision for 
the continuance of an Imperial garrison in the 
colony. Others, from a less worthy motive, object 
to see the troops withdrawn because their presence 
means the outlay of a certain amount of money. 

The vote of Pietermaritzburg, where the troop 
money is mainly spent, will, it is supposed, be 
almost unanimously given against the change. 
Durban will, on the contrary, vote with equal 
unanimity in favour of it. Besides the counter- 
balancing fears with regard to native questions and 
the troops, there is the doubt, always felt in small 
communities, of whether there are a sufficient 
number of men free to give their energies to politics 
to form both a Ministry and an Opposition. The 
position of Natal, which is so far from lying 
absolutely smooth before her, is one in which care- 
less or inefficient administration of her finances 
might bring about serious disaster, and in the party 
which is opposed to responsible government there 
exists some grave apprehension on this head. At 
Durban, however, I found business men, who would, 

I 



H4 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

I imagine, be among the first to suffer in such a 
contingency, very confident that there was no ground 
for the fear. In their view, the introduction of 
responsible government will bring the best men in 
the colony into politics, and they see no reason to 
doubt that the same ability which has built up the 
trade of Natal will know how to protect the situa- 
tion which has been created. 

Apart from the native question, the interests of 
Natal are entirely commercial and agricultural, and 
when her merchants point to Durban and its sur- 
roundings and claim that, having created and 
organised these, they have proved themselves 
capable of administering their own affairs, it is 
impossible to deny that they have some justification. 

The struggle for responsible government will be 
closely fought. Its most sincere supporters are not 
confident of the issue, for they recognise the weight 
of some of the practical objections which are urged 
against it They believe that if they win they will 
greatly strengthen the position of Natal among 
South African States, and this is a result which, no 
matter how it is brought about, may be honestly 
welcomed on all sides. 

The rivalry which exists at present between the 
two English colonies is not wholesome, because it is 
too unequal. The feeling in Natal is too bitter. 
The feeling in the Cape is too contemptuous. There 
is no more reason for one sentiment than for the 
other, and both are, in the best interests of South 
Africa, to be regretted. Natal and the Cape Colony 
ought to work hand in hand. They would soon 
find, if they could agree to do so, that they have 
both everything to gain ; for the development of the 



vni LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA 115 

interior, which they would agree to further, is as 
much to the advantage of the one as of the other. 
The hindrance to this agreement lies, so far as a 
stranger is able to see, much more in the weakness 
of Natal than in the strength — even though that 
strength be sometimes overbearing — of the Cape. 
No doubt the bigger colony is inclined to be imperi- 
ous, and to put the wishes and interests of its own 
electorate before every other consideration. This is 
only to be expected, in view of human imperfection. 
But, if Natal could rid itself of over-sensitiveness in 
the matter, and consider the questions with which 
the two colonies are mutually concerned fairly and 
practically upon their own basis, it would probably 
find that it has much more to gain by accepting a 
reasonable compromise than by standing aloof in its 
present attitude of rigid opposition. 

If the change from representative to responsible 
government were to have no other effect than that 
of softening the asperity of local sentiment, and in- 
spiring the leaders of public opinion in Natal with 
an easier sense of the dignity and security of their 
own position, it would, for this reason alone, be worth 
an effort to secure. Practical objections may prove 
overwhelming. On general grounds everything which 
tends to raise the position of Natal, and to place her 
on terms of equality with the other Governments of 
South Africa, is in itself desirable. 

It is impossible to travel through this lovely and 
fertile corner of the Continent without recognising 
in it an epitome of the two main interests of South 
Africa. Material development and the race question 
are here laid out, as it were, visibly side by side, so 
close one to the other that each throws the other into 



n6 LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA vm 

relief. The train journey from Durban to Maritz- 
burg, lying all the way through fruit gardens and 
farms, and rising so steeply that without putting 
your head out of the window you see the engine 
constantly on the opposite sweep of a curve before 
you, presents a typical picture of what European 
energy can achieve. 

On the coast the town of Durban is one of which 
any small population might be justly proud. But, 
as you mount in the course of the same train journey 
to the higher levels and obtain a magnificent and 
commanding view of the surrounding country, you 
realise that the towns and the train and the richly 
cultivated land on either side form only a strip of 
civilised development which is drawn like a riband 
across an area of native wildness. Kaffirs swarm 
visibly on every side, and their presence forces on 
your comprehension the fact that they occupy the 
country in an immense numerical majority to the 
white population. The features of the position are 
slightly accentuated here, but this is in fact the posi- 
tion of South Africa as a whole. Like Natal, it is 
crossed by lines and currents of civilisation. Like 
Natal, it possesses still wide areas untouched by 
development. Like Natal, its native population 
greatly outnumbers the governing body of Euro- 
peans. The problems of the parts are the problems 
of the whole, and there is so complete an identity of 
interests that there is everything to gain from co- 
operation. Co-operation, in fact, is the master word 
of South African politics. 



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh. 



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



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